Irony in “The Ransom of Red Chief”

by coleman
(waynesboro, tennessee)

Original Text: Irony in “The Ransom of Red Chief”

In O. Henry’s story he uses irony to poke fun at his characters. This story is about the attempted kidnapping of a rich man’s son. The child gives these weary kidnappers more than a handful for them to maintain. In the end the kidnappers decide to give up on their kidnapping plan.
The story opens up by telling us that our two kidnappers get their plan while in Alabama. The first bit of irony is the town’s name, “There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called Summit of course” (Henry204). The two men figure that the father “would melt down for a ransom of two thousand dollars to a cent” (Henry205).
Once they try to get the boy they realize it would be easy to deal with him. They try to pick the boy up by offering him candy but, he throws a brick at Bill’s eye. Once they get the boy to their hideout at a cave, the boy starts beating bill up by playing Indian. The boy also expresses how he enjoys their trip “I like this fine. I never camped out before” (Henry 205). This also shows irony by how the boy enjoys being kidnapped.
The boy keeps on picking on Bill. Sam writes a ransom letter to the boy’s father who he states they are far away from Summit and signs it as “Two Desperate Men” (Henry208).
The best irony is when the father sends a letter back to the men and he states “You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands” (Henry210).

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Revised Text:

In O. Henry’s story, he uses irony to poke fun at his characters. This story is about the attempted kidnapping of a rich man’s son. The child gives the weary kidnappers more than a handful of problems and in the end, the kidnappers decide to give up on their kidnapping plan.

The story opens by telling us that our two kidnappers got their plan while in Alabama. The first bit of irony is the town’s name, “There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake, and called Summit of course” (Henry204). The two men figure that the father, “would melt down for a ransom of two thousand dollars to a cent” (Henry205).

Once they try to get the boy, they realize it would not be easy to deal with him. They try to pick the boy up by offering him candy but he throws a brick at Bill’s eye. When they get the boy to their hideout at a cave, the boy starts beating up Bill by playing "Indian". The boy also expresses how he enjoys his trip “I like this fine. I never camped out before.” (Henry 205) This also shows irony by how the boy enjoys being kidnapped.

The boy keeps on picking on Bill. Sam writes a ransom letter to the boy’s father, where he states that they are far away from Summit and signs it, “Two Desperate Men” (Henry208).

The best irony is when the father sends a letter back to the men and states, “You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands” (Henry210).

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