What allusion does the author make in "The Ransom of Red Chief"?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One allusion in "The Ransom of Red Chief" is contained in the following dialogue between Bill and Sam:

'Sam, do you know who my favourite Biblical character is?'

'Take it easy,' says I. 'You'll come to your senses presently.'

'King Herod,' says he. 

King Herod, also known as Herod the Great, had been appointed King of the Jews by the Romans. In the Gospel of Matthew the story is told of how Joseph and Mary were warned to flee with their newborn son Jesus because Herod intended to kill the child. It had been prophesied to Herod that a child recently born in Bethlehem was destined to replace Herod as king of the Jews. Herod ordered the so-called "Massacre of the Innocents" in which all male Jewish children under the age of two in the vicinity of Bethlehem were killed. Joseph and Mary avoided the murder of their son by fleeing into Egypt. Bill, who has been having the most trouble with Red Chief, is obviously suggesting, though not seriously, that he likes the idea of slaughtering all little boys.

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