What is ironic about how Ebenezer Dorset responds to the ransom note in O. Henry's short story, "The Ransom of Red Chief."

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Most parents in such a situation would be absolutely horrified to receive such a ransom note—but not Mr. Dorset. On the contrary, he sees it as a great opportunity to get some compensation for the considerable trouble to which he's about to be put. The irony here is that the...

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Most parents in such a situation would be absolutely horrified to receive such a ransom note—but not Mr. Dorset. On the contrary, he sees it as a great opportunity to get some compensation for the considerable trouble to which he's about to be put. The irony here is that the roles have been reversed: the two hapless kidnappers, Sam and Bill, have been taking care of little Johnny, whereas his old man is now the one demanding a ransom payment. The father has become the extortioner, and the extortioners have been trying to act like a father to little Johnny and keep him occupied throughout his brief period of captivity. Mr. Dorset knows just what a little horror his son can be, and so he understands how keen Sam and Bill are to get him off their hands. And irony of ironies, his ransom demand succeeds where Sam and Bill's did not.

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When Ebenezer Dorset receives the ransom note demanding $1500 for the return of his son, Mr. Dorset writes back. In his note, he tells the kidnappers, Bill and Sam, that he will agree to take his son back for $250. Normally, a parent will do just about anything to get his/her child back. No amount of money is too much to pay for a son or daughter. Mr. Dorset, though, knows that Bill and Sam have their hands full, and by the time they receive Dorset's note, he figures they will do just about anything to get rid of the boy. The idea that the kidnappers have to pay the father to take his son back is an ironic twist in the story.

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