The Ransom of Red Chief

by O. Henry

Start Free Trial

In "The Ransom of Red Chief," how many examples of contrast between expectation and outcome can you find? Please cite examples of this incongruity of events.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Certainly an incongruity exists between what the men expect to happen in Summit, Alabama, and what actually occurs.  Thinking themselves too sophisticated for the "yeomen" of such a place, Sam and Bill assume their "kidnapping idea" an easy way to make quick money.

However, there are many surprises for the men. For instance, usually after the disappearance of a child in a small town, the citizens are unified in a searrch for this child.  However, after the freckled ten-year takes the men captive and ties Bill down and attempts to scalp him, "having the time of his life," the men wriggle free of him and look down upon the town;

Over toward Summit I expected to see the sturdy yeomanry of the village armed with scythes and pitchforks beating the countryside for the dastardl kidnappers.  But what I saw was a peaceful landscape dotted with one man ploughing with a dun mule.  Nobody was dragging the creek; no couriers dashed hither and yon...There was s ylvan attitude of somnolent sleepiness pervading that section...

When Sam asks Red Chief if he wants to go home, he unexpectedly replies,

'Aw, what for?...I don't have any fun at home.  I hate to go to school.  I like to camp out.  You won't take me back home agin, Snake-eye, will you?

When Sam assumes, "A rowdy kid like that is just the kind that parents dote on," he is proved wrong.  Mr. Dorset does not seem eager at all to recover his son.  And, when he does accept the boy, he tells Sam and Bill that he can only hold the boy for ten minutes while they flee.

Perhaps the funniest outcome to an expectation comes with Sam and Bill's thinking that they will easily collect $2,000.00, but end up paying Mr. Dorset $250.00 to take the boy off their hands.  And the irony of their having signed the ransom note with "Two Desperate Men" cannot be missed!

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team