What is one sentence showing the impotance of Bill in the story "The Ransom of Red Chief?"

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the narrator, Sam, is the brains behind the kidnapping scheme that is the focus of the story, Bill is a very important influence on him and the decisions that he makes. Bill's statements, especially those he makes on the ransom the two are asking, also serve as a measuring stick as to how the operation is going.

When the kidnapping has occurred and things begin going badly, the narrator notes, as pertains to Bill, about their victim,

"That boy had Bill terrorized from the start."

The eventual outcome of the story is indicated early on, when the narrator says, again in relation to Bill,

"...from that moment, Bill's spirit was broken."

The two men had planned to demand two-thousand dollars for the boy's return, but when Hank is writing the ransom note, Bill begs him to lower the amount to fifteen hundred dollars instead. He says,

"I ain't attempting...to decry the celebrated moral aspect of parental afection, but we're dealing with humans, and it ain't human for anybody to give up two thousand dollars for that forty-pound chunk of freckeld wildcat. I'm willing to take a chance at fifteen hundred dollars. You can charge the difference to me."

As the situation continues to deteriorate, Bill laments,

"I wish we hadn't made the ransom more than a thousand,"

and when the father of the victim suggests that instead of him paying the kidnappers for the return of his son, the kidnappers should pay him, Bill capitulates immediately, convincing the narrator to go along with him, and signalling the complete failure of the plot by saying,

"...what's two hundred and fifty dollars, after all...You ain't going to let the chance go, are you?"

Read the study guide:
The Ransom of Red Chief

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question