[2015] Katie Flanagan: The Ransom of Red Chief

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[2015] Katie Flanagan: The Ransom of Red Chief

By: Katie Flanagan

The story is about two men who decide to kidnap a small boy and ransom him. The small boy proves to be more uncontrollable than previously expected, and the kidnappers end up being more scared of the crazy child than the child is of his kidnappers. When trying to ransom the child, his father ends up requiring money from the kidnappers to take the boy back. The story is best summed up when the author writes, "It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama--Bill Driscoll and myself-when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, 'during a moment of temporary mental apparition'; but we didn't find that out till later." This quote not only talks about the kidnapping plan, but foreshadows that said plan, may not go too well.

The theme of the story is that everything has unforeseen consequences. The "Desperate Men" had kidnapped a kid, and were expecting $2,000 in return. Instead, they got a form of torture from said kid, and ended up paying to return him. It states in the introduction, "It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama--Bill Driscoll and myself-when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, 'during a moment of temporary mental apparition'; but we didn't find that out till later." In other words, Karma is very real.

Theme

The RansomofRed Chief

Plot

There are three main characters in The Ransom of Red Chief, the kidnappers, Bill and Sam, and the child, whom is called Red Chief. Sam is the character who tells the story, and seems to be the smarter one of the bandits. He seems to be the one that is more in control of the situation, and pretends he isn't scared of the boy, "Sure,' said I. 'A rowdy kid like that is just the kind that parents dote on. Now, you and the Chief get up and cook breakfast, while I go up on the top of this mountain and reconnoitre". Bill is the kidnapper that is more wary and scared of the boy. We don't see him act intelligently or unintelligently , but he is described to be the thicker of the two kidnappers. Bill admits to being scared of the boy, and tries to get Sam to aswell, "You're a liar!' says Bill. 'You're afraid. You was to be burned at sunrise, and you was afraid he'd do it. And he would, too, if he could find a match. Ain't it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay out money to get a little imp like that back home?Finally, Red Chief is the child who was kidnapped, who turns out to be more trouble than he is worth. He frequently attacks his kidnappers, in the name of fun, and it is told to us that he does this to his neighbors aswell. It is proven throughout the story that he is crazy, and the author supports that with this phrase, "Red Chief was sitting on Bill's chest, with one hand twined in Bill's hair. In the other he had the sharp case-knife we used for slicing bacon; and he was industriously and realistically trying to take Bill's scalp, according to the sentence that had been pronounced upon him the evening before."

Characters

The mood of the story is fairly humourous, instead of the scared feeling you would normally get from a story about kidnapping. In the story we see various situations the kidnappers go through, like "'He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back,' explained Bill, 'and then mashed it with his foot; and I boxed his ears. Have you got a gun about you, Sam?", which can be very funny in the right light. The story is also slightly ironic, as we see these two kidnappers be tortured in a way, by this kid they had thought would be too scared to cause trouble, and intended to do wrong upon him.

The story was told in a first person point of view, through the character Sam. We know that it is first person because of the continuous use of "I". The author wrote the story from Sam's perspective because he seemed more aware of what the situation was, and knew better ways to handle it. He also knew about the details of the kidnapping, while not being driven crazy by the boy, like the other two characters. He provided the most reliable telling of the story based on the characters.

Video

Point of View

Mood

The stories "The Lady or the Tiger" and "The Ransom of Red Chief" do share similarities. Both stories are similar in their use of consequences. Consequences are a big part of the plot and conflict in both stories. In "The Lady or the Tiger", the big consequence is the trial the lover must got hrough, and the decision the Princess must make. There are two consequences the lover may have recieved, "Which came out of the opened door - the lady, or the tiger?" In "The Ransom of Red Chief" the punishment is the boy himself. For the boy took it upon himself to punish them as much as possible, "'I was only funning,' says he sullenly. 'I didn't mean to hurt Old Hank. But what did he hit me for? I'll behave, Snake-eye, if you won't send me home, and if you'll let me play the Black Scout to-day."There is also a major difference between the two stories, the method of punishment and the expectation of it. In "The Lady or the Tiger" the punishment is much more expected and deadly. In this story the punishment is either, " a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding." Meanwhile, in "The Ransom of Red Chief", the kidnappers were unawre of their consequence, and it was much funnier to the reader. The kidnappers were unexpectaedly tortured by the child they kidnapped. In the story they end up in situations like, "He put a red-hot boiled potato down my back,' explained Bill, 'and then mashed it with his foot," in response to the kidnapping.

Compare and Contrast


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