The Ransom of Red Chief Comprehension Questions

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  • 0:03 'The Ransom of Red Chief'
  • 0:21 Characters and Setting
  • 0:58 Comedy and Irony
  • 1:30 Recall
  • 2:58 Understanding and Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson gives you over 40 questions that will help you test your students' recollection and comprehension of ideas, themes and events in O. Henry's 'The Ransom of Red Chief.'

The Ransom of Red Chief

The Ransom of Red Chief is a fun and ironic short story by O. Henry. Everything we expect to happen, doesn't happen. This lesson offers you numerous questions you can use to test specific and general knowledge and comprehension of this story.

Characters and Setting

1. Who tells the story of The Ransom of Red Chief?

2. Who is Red Chief?

3. What are the names of the kidnappers?

4. Who was the kidnapping victim? Why was he chosen?

5. Why did the kidnappers choose the town of Summit?

6. Who was Ebenezer Dorset?

7. Who was Snake-eye? What was to happen to Snake-eye?

8. How would you characterize Bill and Sam's relationship?

9. How did Johnny and Sam get along?

10. Which characters are mischievous in this story? How so?

Comedy and Irony

1. Is the name of the town ironic? If so, why?

2. How did Johnny react to his kidnapping? Why is this ironic?

3. How did Bill and Sam sign (end) their ransom note? Why did they sign off like that? Is this funny or ironic?

4. Why was the ending so ironic, given Bill and Sam's physiques?

5. What are some of the ways in which irony is used in this story?

6. Describe some uses of comedy in this story.


1. How much money did the kidnappers have at the beginning of this story? Why did they want even more money? How much more did they want?

2. If you could describe the boy who was kidnapped to a police sketch artist, what would you say?

3. What was the kidnapping victim doing when he was abducted?

4. Why was Bill all bruised up by Johnny?

5. Who was going to be scalped, by whom, and when?

6. Why was Bill letting out ''...indecent, terrifying, humiliating screams, such as women emit when they see ghosts or caterpillars'' at one point in the story?

7. Why did Sam have to pour cold water over Bill's head for half an hour?

8. Why did Sam decide to go to Poplar Cove?

9. How much did the kidnappers demand for the boy? Why was this price different from that which they wanted at first?

10. Can you summarize what the ransom note stated?

11. Where did Sam mail the ransom letter? What did he hear in town about the kidnapping?

12. Why do you think Bill is so submissive to Johnny's rambunctiousness?

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