The Ransom of the Red Chief begins on introducing two petty criminals, Bill and Sam, looking for an easy two thousand dollars, they hatch a plot to kidnap and hold for ransom Johnny, the ten year old son of Ebenezer Dorset, a wealthy businessman in the town of Summit. They pick up the boy and take him to a cave hideout, but there the tables are turned. Calling himself “Red Chief” in a fantasy game of cowboys and Indians, the boy drives both men crazy—but particularly Bill. Here we see a spectacle unfold with nonsensical prattle, childish demands and mild physical abuse, the boy demands they entertain him, refusing to return to his home even when they release him from his captivity out of desperation to be rid of his antics.
In the end, they instead paid Ebenezer $250 to hold the boy long enough so they could escape because Johnny wanted to come with them. The story’s beginning begins with a very familiar tone of villains looking to strike gold with some evil deeds, being the reader, the story slowly goes comedic that is such a good read and countless animated adaptations prove its success in entertaining people, because who wouldn’t want a boy who finds joy in adversity and instead brings adversity to his adversaries. An already cliche idea but always entertains us again and again.
Bill and Sam, although criminals, are not murderers. The story teaches us that not all criminals are the same, although they have committed crime, there is different intensities of it. Criminals also hold conscience, that’s why they instead paid Ebenezer $250 rather than kill the boy to get rid of him entirely. Ultimately, the focus of the story is about the lack of empathy, if Sam and Bill, Ebenezer and Johnny cared for their fellow man, would they have done the things they did? Ebenezer was a bad father and failed to empathize to his son, and Johnny was very terrible towards Bill. Bill and Sam wouldn’t be criminals if they cared for other people. The story tells us, just like Jesus taught us, love thy neighbor as thyself.