What was your reaction to the the ending of "The Ransom of Red Chief"?

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ending seems exaggerated, but the whole story is exaggerated. This is because it is American humor, and exaggeration is one of the principal characteristics of American humor, as Mark Twain and E. B. White both noted. It seems absurd that these two con men would actually pay the kid's father two hundred and fifty dollars to take his son back. This is a sticking point in the story. After all, they are in a hick town in the middle of nowhere. They ought to be able to abandon Red Chief and slip off into the dark prairie. These two con men must have had a lot of experience making getaways all over the Midwest. The last words of the story are gross exaggeration.

And, as dark as it was, and as fat as Bill was, and as good a runner as I am, he was a good mile and a half out of Summit before I could catch up with him.

The only danger seems to be from Red Chief himself. If Ebenezer Dorset doesn't get his money he won't hold the boy for ten minutes in order to allow Sam and Bill to escape. But if they could fool Red Chief into coming back home to his father, they ought to be able to fool him in some other way which would enable them to make their getaway. There is no reason why the two men couldn't just tie the boy up and send his father a note saying where to find him. The story can't be taken too seriously. It is just a good example of American humor of its day. Young people today might not get the humor and might consider the whole story old-fashioned.