Humor of a Common Fear

Decent Essays

“Life doesn't make any sense, and we all pretend it does. Comedy's job is to point out that it doesn't make sense, and that it doesn't make much difference anyway.” ~Eric Idle. In “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry this concept comes to life. The story is about two men kidnapping a young child and karma coming back to bite them in the butt. The two men are Sam and Bill, each is being abused by the child known as Johnny but goes by Red Chief. Sam and Bill ask for a ransom of $2,000, but they end up paying Johnny’s dad to take him back because they cannot go on with the abuse anymore. The concept stated by Eric Idle applies to this tale because people fear kidnapping which makes no sense because the way some people treat it causes psychosomatic and paranoid mindsets about it and yet we pretend it does. The comedy in “The Ransom of Red Chief” points out that it is an irrational fear. In this short story humor is added to an everyday fear, kidnapping, by using comic characters, situations, and language. To begin, in “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry, two comic characters, Bill and Red Chief create humor by using the incongruity theory. Bill is a large man who is a grown criminal, yet he has a feminine side. Red Chief is an adolescent who wants to stay with his kidnappers instead of going home. Bill’s feminine side comes out when Sam says, “I was awakened by a series of awful screams from Bill” “...they were simply indecent, terrifying, humiliating screams, such as a

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