Summer Series: Student Writing Sample [8th grade]

LogoThis summer we will feature a writing sample from a student in each grade as we all enjoy a beautiful summer in West Michigan! Please join us each week to read these fantastic teacher-submitted examples of excellent writing!

Literary Essay on Ransom of Red Chief
By Jacob Frollo

In the short story “Ransom of Red Chief”, by O. Henry, Bill and Sam need money so they kidnap a kid. They took a little boy who calls himself Red Chief, but they got more than they bargained for. The boy beat up and harassed them. The boy was such a handful that they ended up paying his father to take him back. This story shows that before you act, you should think about the consequences.

For instance, Bill and Sam Were so desperate to get some money that they acted and didn’t think about the consequences. “ The kid was in the street, throwing rocks at a kitten on the opposite fence”(pg. 274). They took the boy because they thought he was the banker’s son but didn’t stop and wonder if it would be a bad idea to take him because he was throwing rocks at a kitten on the fence. Bill and Sam didn’t think of the consequences before they acted and took the boy. Also, the boy acted without thinking of the consequences. Red Chief was sitting on Bills chest with one hand grabing his hair and in the other hand he had a sharp knife which he was trying to cut Bill with(pg. 277). The boy was just pretending to be an Indian and was trying to have a good time, but he didn’t think about the consequences he would have for harassing Bill. For example, Bill and Sam could send him home and he didn’t want to go home because he was having fun. Later in the story they did threaten take him home. He beat up Bill without thinking of the consequences that he almost got sent home. In addition, the boy’s father acted, but he was aware of the consequences. “You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands”(pg. 281). In this sentence from the text the boy’s father offers the kidnappers a deal so he could get his son back without paying the ransom. This shows that the boy’s father thought about the consequences and decided to write the letter like that anyway. He was almost positive the kidnappers would take the offer because his son was such a handful and they were getting sick of him. The boy’s father thought about the consequences and acted based on what he thought was the best choice. Another situation where someone acted was when Bill and Sam decided to give the kid back without getting the ransom. “We’ll take him home, pay the ransom and make our getaway”(pg. 282). Bill and Sam decided to pay the 250 dollars to get rid of the kid because he was getting on their nerves and they didn’t want to deal with him any more. Bill and Sam knew the consequences, but the decided to act and pay the ransom so they could get rid of him.

Furthermore, there were also many consequences for the characters actions. For example, Bill and Sam had consequences for kidnapping the boy. Red chief had put a red hot potato down Bill’s back and smashed with his foot. Then Bill hit him and he threatend to bash his head in with a rock(pg. 277). When they took the boy they didn’t think of the consequences, but there were many consequences including this one where the boy threatened to hit Bill with a rock. That was one of many consequences they had for taking the boy. Additionally, the boy had a consequence for being such a handful. “When the kid found out we were going to leave him at home he started up a howl like a calliope and fastened himself as tight as a leech to Bill’s leg”(pg. 282). The boy got angry because he was having fun and didn’t want to go home, but he had to because he was being such a handful for Bill and Sam and the wanted him gone. If he wouldn’t have been such a handful Bill and Sam might not have taken the deal that was offered to them and the boy would have got to stay longer if his father didn’t pay the ransom. Going home was the boy’s consequence for being a handful. Bill and Sam also had consequences for taking the offer that the boy’s father gave them. “We took him home that night”(pg. 282). Bill and Sam brought the boy back to his father and by doing so there were many consequences. One is that they wouldn’t get the ransom money that they needed. Another is that they had to pay the man to get rid of the boy. Bill and Sam gave the boy back and they knew the consequences, but they did it anyway because they were so sick of the boy.

In conclusion, some people acted without thinking and had consequences for their actions, while others thought of the consequences and then acted on what they thought they should do. You should just think about the consequences before you act.

Our 8th writer, Jake Frollo, has attended Jenison Public Schools since kindergarten. He is a percussionist in marching band and enjoys snow skiing in winter. His favorite book is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jacob is a rising freshman at Jenison High School and his writing was selected by his 8th grade writing teacher, Ms Deb VanDuinen.

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