October 5, 2005
“The Ransom of Red Chief”
“The Ransom of Red Chief” is a truly ironic story. O. Henry starts the story with two scheming pals, Bill and Sam, who have an idea for kidnapping a wealthy man’s son in a town named Summit. They soon acquire Johnny Dorset, son of Ebenezer Dorset, (the wealthy man) and run off with him to a cave. Johnny, also called “Red Chief”, turns out to be more trouble than he’s worth, literally! The two friends expect a ransom of $2,000, but “Red Chief” causes so much chaos and havoc that the conmen are willing to give up the ransom just to get rid of him. Red Chief’s attempts to scalp, burn, and torture the two swindlers cause them to give up. He is especially cruel to Bill, which results in Bill pleading with Sam to get rid of this depraved child. To hisrelief, Red Chiefs father is willing to take his disturbed son back, but with a counter offer of $250! Finally agreeing that Red Chief is just too much to handle they pay Ebenezer his money and never go near summit again. The verbal irony used in “The Ransom of Red Chief” puts much humor into the story. There are many accounts of verbal irony in “Ransom of Red Chief”. In my opinion the funniest event of verbal irony in the story, is the name of the town. Now, a town named Summit makes you think of hills and mountains, but the town is as flat as a board! Another example of O. Henry’s famous verbal irony is when Bill says“Heaven help the wolves”. Before, Bill and his partner referred to Red Chief as a little helpless lamb, and themselves as the wolves , but the tables have turned and its seems the “Wolves” don’t have as much power as they predicted. These ironic accounts aren’t the only ones, there is much more irony to be found in “The Ransom of Red Chief”. By far, the most entertaining factor in this hilarious story is the situational irony. One of the many ironic situations the characters find themselves in is the counter offer proposed...