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The Ransom of Red Chief

by O. Henry

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Student Question

In "The Ransom of Red Chief," why does the boy give a speech during dinner?

Expert Answers

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Shortly after Sam and Bill kidnap Johnny Dorset and take him to a cave in the mountains, they discover that Johnny is an energetic, violent young boy and soon realize that they've made a terrible mistake. When Sam returns from the town of Summit, he comes into the cave and discovers that Johnny and Bill are playing Indian. Johnny has named himself Red Chief and proceeds to behave like a hostile Indian by terrorizing Bill and christening Sam Snake-eye. During dinner, Johnny gives a speech, where he mentions that he has never gone camping before and begins senselessly switching topics like an energetic, unfocused boy. Johnny's speech is unimportant and complete nonsense. The speech is filled with random questions as well as trivial information about his life. Johnny gives his speech because he enjoys being the center of attention and is an active young boy, who takes pleasure in hearing himself talk. Johnny's incoherent speech characterizes him as a handful and ball of energy.

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