In the story "The Ransom Of Red Chief" what is the kidnappers' first clue that the Dorsets are not alarmed at their son's kidnapping?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story is a comic story of reversals - that is the way things are or happen are directly opposite from what one would expect.

For example, the lazy rural town of Summit is as flat as a pancake, with no summit or vantage point in sight.

The kidnappers supposed that Southern families would be more protectionalist towards their children, but they learn rather quickly that this is not the case, at least with the Dorsets.

They want to extort money from Mr Dorset by kidnapping his son, but true to his name (his first name being "Ebenezer," the same first name as Dicken's Scrooge!), they confront a hard-nosed penny-pincher greedier than they could ever hope to be!

They should have "flaired the scent," so to speak, when the Dorsets were in no hurry to reply to their ransom note. That should have been a clear sign that they were not typical parents,  besides themselves with worry over the whereabouts and well-being of their progeniture. Instead, they take a "station break" before offering to take their pest of a son back -  that is, after being paid a "compensation" for their trouble, of course....

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It was a little suspicious that there were no search activities a day after the boy was kidnapped. Sam hoped to see armed villagers scouring the countryside for the kidnappers or at least someone communicating the heartbreaking news to the distraught parents.

Sam decided to visit a nearby village to try and find out about the kidnapping they carried out in Summit. He also thought it best to send a letter to Ebenezer Dorset demanding the ransom for his son’s release. Ebenezer received the letter, but instead of sending the ransom, he replied with a message of his own.

Mr. Dorset made them a counter-offer and requested the kidnappers pay him two hundred and fifty dollars in exchange for taking back his troublesome son. Dorset’s letter confirmed Sam’s suspicions that neither the parents nor villagers were alarmed by the kidnapping.

Thus, the first clue was the silence in Summit hours after the boy was kidnapped.

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The Ransom of Red Chief

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