The Ransom of Red Chief

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The life of O. Henry ties in very closely with the narrative The Ransom of Red Chief.

Life had been well until O. Henry had been accused of the embezzlement of bank funds. O

Henry denied the indictment but was still put in jail. In prison, he wrote and published hundreds

of short stories in order to support his daughter. O. Henry was once asked why he wrote; he

replied that every story conveys something about being a person. Having been wrongly accused

may have led O. Henry to communicate his belief that criminals receive what they deserve in

The Ransom of Red Chief.

O. Henry utilizes a first person point of view in his writing to emphasize the significance

of a single character. The center of attention is mainly
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O Henry utilizes two conflicts to keep the story moving and create a twisting plot.

O Henry’s setting is properly placed to produce a believable plot. This can be seen when

the setting is introduced, “We were down South, in Alabama- Bill Driscoll and myself- when

this kidnapping idea struck us…there was a town down contained inhabitants of as

undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry as ever clustered around a maypole” (337).

O Henry creates an isolated atmosphere where the inhabitants are mostly harmless, and will not

interfere with the kidnappers and also to make the job easier for the criminals. Based on the

narrative, the story is fast paced and lasts about two days. O Henry uses this short time period so

that Bill is not forced to endure any more of Johnny (341). This would create a different plot

than the author had intended. The time period cannot be accurately identified; however it is

implied that the setting took place after the Russian and Japanese War, which was from 1904 to

1905. It can be seen when Bill gives Johnny a weak sort of a smile and a promise to play the

Russian in a Japanese War with him as soon as Bill felt a little better (345). O. Henry uses the

setting to unify the story.

Characterization plays a major role in O. Henry’s writings. This too allows the plot to

take an alternative ending. This can be seen when Johnny seems to enjoy being kidnapped (338-

339). O. Henry
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