The Ransom of Red Chief

by O. Henry
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In the "Ransom of Red Chief," what nickname does the kid give himself? 

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Sam and Bill are con men who kidnap a boy named Johnny from a businessman named Ebenezer Dorset. They are hoping that this will be a get-rich-quick scheme so they can play a bigger con in Illinois that has to do with real estate. When they finally kidnap Johnny, he ironically isn't scared and actually thinks it is a fun idea to go camping with the two men.

Johnny's not an idiot, though. He knows what the kidnappers are doing with him. He makes it difficult for the kidnappers from the start by talking continually and being a pest. Then he comes up with the idea that since they are camping, he can pretend he is an Indian named Red Chief who actually has captured them. Red Chief is the name that Johnny gives himself so he can play a game with the kidnappers. He calls Bill Old Hank the Trapper. He plans on scalping them in the morning, too.

"Every few minutes he would remember that he was a pesky redskin, and pick up his stick rifle and tiptoe to the mouth of the cave to rubber for the scouts of the hated paleface. Now and then he would let out a war whoop that made Old Hank the Trapper shiver. That boy had Bill terrorized from the start."

This is a great story to read when learning about irony because Red Chief should be the one who is scared of the kidnappers, not the other way around. In the end, the kidnappers are happy to send the kid back home.


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