“The Ransom of Red Chief” is a short story by O. Henry. It was first published in 1907. The short story deals with a kidnapping, which is not going as well as planned. Instead of making money by receiving the ransom they were asking for, the kidnappers end up paying the boy’s father to take his son back.
This short story is written in a very entertaining way, thus opening it up to a much wider audience. It could appeal to younger readers as well as to older readers.
The main theme of the short story is that things are not always as they seem. Sam and Bill had initially anticipated that it would be easy to make money if they kidnap the son of wealthy parents. However, they soon find out that this is not the case at all, as the father refuses to pay the ransom. Therefore, one could argue that the story is targeting a younger audience in particular, as it contains a valuable lesson about life: one should never rush things or jump to conclusions. Younger generations are often very driven and tend to rush their decisions. Older generations, on the other hand, frequently go through life at a much slower pace, having learned their lesson when they were younger. From an educational point of view, this short story could therefore be seen as a warning to younger people.
Generally speaking, however, the audience of this short story still remains a very wide audience, spanning across all age groups from youth onwards. The theme of crime, for example, is universal and applicable to all members of society. Through the story the reader clearly learns that there is no point in trying to make money through crime. Had the two kidnappers undertaken a proper job instead, they would have earned money instead of losing it. This is a very universal message.