How does Johnny Dorset demonstrate the power of the human imagination?
O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief" is an early example of what Hollywood calls a "busted caper" story. In such a story, some crooks plan to commit a crime that should yield a lot of money; but, usually because of poor planning, they run into serious problems and the job, or "caper," ends in disaster. A good fairly recent example of a busted caper movie is the very excellent Fargo, in which a man named Jerry Lundegaard, played to perfection by William H. Macy, hires a couple of hoods to kidnap his own wife. His idea is to get a million dollars from her wealthy father to pay the ransom money but to keep most of the money himself. Both his wife and her father end up dead and Jerry will go to prison for life. In "The Ransom of Red Chief" the biggest mistake made by the two crooks is in planning to kidnap a little boy without knowing anything about little boys. The main thing the crooks do not understand about children in general is that fantasies can be very real for some. Johnny Dorset is not just pretending to be a wild Indian named Red Chief. He really is a wild Indian named Red Chief. It is the intensity of the boy's imagination that moves the story forward and creates disaster. The crooks think that they can just pretend along with Johnny, but they are progressively disillusioned.