The Ransom Of Red Chief Summary-This Story Make You Laugh

The Ransom of Red Chief Summary, Analysis, And Themes

It’s another one of a great short story by O Henry. The plot of the story consists of two persons who kidnapped a kid as they needed money but ended up badly. The story is full of comedy and you can’t stop laughing as you read it. Here is the ransom of Red Chief summary and analysis.


In this blog,  we discuss these terms:

  • Author introduction
  • The Ransom of Red Chief Characters
  • Summary
  • Analysis
  • Themes
  • Symbols
  • Moral Lessons
  • Conclusion
  • Questions/Answers

Author Introduction

This short story was written by famous story writer O Henry back in 1907. It’s a comedy-type work that has received immense admiration from readers. O Henry used a simple and elegant way to explain the whole story. Some of O Henry’s short stories are:

The Ransom Of Red Chief Characters

The story contains two kidnappers who kidnapped a boy belonging to a well-settled and wealthy family.


He’s the first protagonist and a kidnapper. He seems a cunning and intelligent protagonist.

Bill Driscoll

He’s Sam’s crime partner. They both kidnapped a boy “Johnny”. You’ll laugh at him as well as feel sad for Bill at the end of the story.


Johnny Dorset was the 10-year-old boy kidnapped by Sam and Bill. He belonged to a rich family. He was the son of Ebenezer Dorset, who was a famous wealthy man in the town.

Ebenezer Dorset

He has a low impact in the story. He is Johnny’s father in a story running a successful business.

Setting: The Ransom of Red Chief

The story is set in a summit town in Alabama.

The Ransom of Red Chief Summary

The story starts with two people named Bill and Sam who desperately need two thousand dollars for an illegal activity or business. They made a plan that they’d kidnap a kid from town who belonged to a wealthy family and in return gonna got ransom money.


They declared that they’d kidnap “Johnny Dosret“, who was the son of the famous rich man in the summit town “Ebenezer Dorset“.They prepared a cave in the mountains to captivate their victim.

Kidnapping Kid

The two men went to the town. They saw Johnny playing outside. They kidnapped him and took him away from the town.

Johnny Activities

The kid appeared opposite to their expectations. He was a mischievous boy who always did unnecessary things. He hit a stone at Bill’s eye. Further, Bill was his victim.

Letter To Ebenezer

The next day, Sam wrote a letter for ransom to Johnny’s father. He heard news that his father was concerned about the boy.

After writing a letter and all the orders, Sam came back and saw no one was in the cave. Bill told him he had left the boy as he was a mess. As they were talking, they saw the boy Johnny who called him “Red Chief”  standing behind him as he came back. Now, Bill was again in fear as the boy was naughty. They waited for a reply from the other side. Sam received a letter from Johnny’s father who said to them that if they wanted to get rid of his boy, they should leave him at the house and hand over 250 dollars to Ebenezer Dorset for getting rid of this kid.

Handing Johnny Back

Sam and Bill came to Ebenezer Dorset’s house and handed them Johnny with two hundred and fifty dollars for getting rid of Johnny. Mr.Ebenezer held Johnny firmly as he was clinging to Bill’s leg as they were leaving. The kidnappers ran as fast as they could and faded away.

The Ransom Of Red Chief Analysis

This story tells us that sometimes results aren’t up to our expectations. Sam and Bill thought that they’d be successful in their evil plan but ended up badly. They met a boy who made their life hell. This story provides a view of unexpected events. Readers love Johnny’s character. Unlike other kids, he enjoyed himself as being kidnapped by Sam and Bill. The kidnappers were annoyed because of his acts. It’s good to say that Johnny wasn’t kidnapped but he kidnapped Sam and Bill.

Further, the character of Johnny’s father is also strange and funny. The way he responded to his son’s kidnapping makes you laugh. He seems unconcerned about the kidnapping. He was aware of his son’s funny acts. The ending has a twist when the kidnappers pay money to get rid of Johnny instead of getting money.

The Ransom Of Red Cheif Themes

The story explores these themes:


The activities done by Johnny were funny and made the reader laugh.

Unexpected events

The kidnappers learned a lesson that results aren’t the same as expectations. They wanted to destroy someone’s life by kidnapping their son but that happened opposite to them. They were demanding ransom but in return paid the money.

Dramatic Irony

The story is ironic. Everything happened opposite to readers’ expectations.

Symbols: The Ransom of Red Chief

Red Hair

When Bill and Sam reach to kidnapping Johnny, they portray him as a boy having red hair. Further, you can associate red hairs with harsh and wild nature which was the main quality of Johnny.

King Herod

When Bill tried to indulge with Johnny he feared him. He asked him about his favorite character and he told him about King Herod. He was the one who tried to kill Jesus. This symbol shows the anger and frustration of Johnny.

Red Cheif

Johnny declared himself as the red chief. What is the meaning of red chief? It means the one who controls everything. It simply defines Johnny as he was the one who was controlling Sam and Bill.

The Ransom Of Red Cheif Moral Lesson

What is the moral lesson of the Ransom Of Red Chief? The main message of the story is a serious one that is trying to neglect bad activities. Sometimes things aren’t in our hands like Johnny has completely dominated over kidnappers. Sam and Bill made an evil plan of kidnapping a kid and karma hit them back.

Conclusion: The Ransom Of Red Chief Summary

In a nutshell, it’s a tale when two people try to kidnap a boy to get money but the kid happens antagonist to their thinking. The story explores themes of fun, joy, and life lessons.

  • If you’ve liked a summary of Ransom of Red Chief, share it with your circle of influence. For those searching for Ransom of Red Chief questions and answers, check:


who is the narrator of the Ransom of Red Chief?

Sam is the narrator of the story “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O Henry. He narrates an event when they kidnapped a boy for money but the results were opposite.

who is the protagonist in the Ransom of Red Chief?

The main protagonist of the story is Sam who handles the whole kidnapping program.

what is the theme of Ransom of Red Chief?

The main theme of the story is bad things lead to bad outputs. Sam and Bill tried to kidnap a kid and ended up badly because karma hit them.

what is the conflict in the Ransom of Red Chief?

The main conflict in the story is Johnny’s activities. He was a mess and headache for kidnappers, especially for Bill. He injured Bill and that’s why they decided to get rid of him.


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