What is the major conflict at the beginning of the story?

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pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conflict at the beginning of O. Henry's classic short story "The Ransom of Red Chief" is two men (Sam and Bill) in need of money.  As the story says in the opening lines, "it looked like a good thing."  Bill and Sam came up with what seemed like a good plan: kidnap a kid and ransom the kid for money.  To complete the plan, the men pick out a quiet town and a rich family with only one son.  They think that this will optimize the amount of ransom they can collect. Of course, the plan didn't work out when they kidnap Johnny, the most annoying kid in town.