“The Ransom of Red Chief” Lesson Plans

It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama – Mr. Driscoll and myself-when this “Ransom of Red Chief” lesson plan involving reading the story and answering the questions idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, “during a moment of temporary mental apparition”; but we didn’t find that out till later.

Luckily, we found these “Ransom of Red Chief” lesson plans involving higher level thinking skills that cover core standards that we’d now like to share with you.

“The Ransom of Red Chief” Lesson Plan

Here’s what you came for: Making Inferences in “The Ransom of Red Chief” Lesson Plan.

Ransom of Red Chief Lesson Plan Graphic

These “Ransom of Red Chief” lesson plans are ready to use. All you need is a printer and a copy machine. There’s no additional prep.
“The Ransom of Red Chief” unit plan contains lesson plans, graphic organizer handouts with answer keys, essay rubrics, a summary and analysis of the story, discussion ideas, a quiz, and more.
Lessons focus on irony, conflict, plot, narrative writing, humor in literature, literary analysis, and more.

“The Ransom of Red Chief” Summary

Bill and Sam need a little money to participate in a financial scam in Illinois, so they decide to put in action a kidnapping/ransom plan. The kidnappers choose the son of a prominent citizen. They spot the boy throwing rocks at cats and kidnap him.

The boy terrorizes the kidnappers and talks about how much fun he is having. No one in the town seems to care about the boy’s disappearance. He continues to terrorize the kidnappers and is afraid he’ll have to go home. One of the kidnappers sends the boy on his way, but he comes back. The narrator sends the boy’s father a ransom note.

The boy’s father replies by demanding the kidnappers pay him money to take the child back. The kidnappers oblige and hurry out of town.

“The Ransom of Red Chief” Analysis and Lesson Ideas

If you like to teach short stories in depth, you’re going to need more than the aforementioned making inferences lesson plan. Here are some ideas. You can check out the entire unit by clicking the graphic above and to the right.

  • Analyzing Plot. Review the basic elements of plot with an entertaining story. Freytag’s pyramid works well here.
  • Analyzing Irony. Irony abounds. Don’t waste a grand opportunity to teach it.
  • Foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is not limited to Edgar Allan Poe or the horror genre.
  • Humor in Literature. This is a funny story. Examine the tools for creating humor in writing.
  • Point of View. How would the story be different if Johnny or his father narrated it.

Analyzing Point of View and Character Lesson Plan

The main character in the story is the narrator, who happens to be one of the kidnappers. The narrator’s reliability is, therefore, questionable.

Here’s a lesson plan preview.

For the graphic organizer and answer key, just click the pdf at the top of the post.

Common Core Standards

  • RL Standard 1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • RL Standard 3 – Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Lesson Plan Procedures

  1. Read “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O’Henry.
  2. Hand out the chart below and have students fill it out.
  3. Discuss.
  4. Come back to this page and comment how the lesson went.
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