What comedic elements are used by O. Henry in the story ransom of red chief?

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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Ransom of Red Chief includes irony, role reversals with comic results, unexpected situations and actions, and outcomes that glorify the persons who are usually victims. O. Henry is a master in creating humor with all of these devices.

The location of the kidnapping is the town of Summit, which is not a summit but perfectly flat. The ten year old "victim" of the kidnapping refuses the candy offered to entice him into the wagon, then takes charge of the hideout by doing what all energetic ten year olds do, only more so. Johnny talks nonstop, is constantly active and demands that Sam and Bill keep active with him, acts upon his ideas and dreams of how to keep his adult captives under control, and generally turns the situation upside down. His father's suggestion that the "kidnappers" pay him in order to obtain their release is the ultimate confirmation of the complete failure of the "good thing" that Sam and Bill were expecting.