The Ransom of Red Chief

Ebenezer Dorset Character Analysis

Ebenezer Dorset is Johnny's father, a wealthy businessman in the town of Summit. Sam describes him as a rich but stingy person who takes advantage of people in distress: “Respectable and tight, a mortgage fancier and a stern, upright collection-plate passer and forecloser.” Ebenezer’s coldness and cruelty are also evident in the seeming hunger his son Johnny has for fatherly attention and affection. When Sam and Bill kidnap Johnny and hold him for ransom, Ebenezer displays both his humorous and his calculating sides by refusing to worry about his son’s safety and pay the ransom, but instead cleverly negotiating with Johnny’s captors so that they would pay him money to return his troublesome son. The unusual name Ebenezer evokes the namesake character Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and that is reinforced by the polite but calculating missives from him “written with a pen in a crabbed hand.” He evokes little sympathy in the reader, perhaps because he is the only one who profits from this sad episode.

Ebenezer Dorset Quotes in The Ransom of Red Chief

The The Ransom of Red Chief quotes below are all either spoken by Ebenezer Dorset or refer to Ebenezer Dorset . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Crime, Violence, and Empathy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Modern Library edition of The Ransom of Red Chief published in 1994.
The Ransom of Red Chief Quotes

The father was respectable and tight, a mortgage fancier and a stern, upright collection-plate passer and forecloser.

Related Characters: Sam (speaker), Johnny , Bill Driscoll , Ebenezer Dorset
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
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I never lost my nerve yet till we kidnapped that two-legged skyrocket of a kid... it ain't human for anybody to give up two thousand dollars for that forty-pound chunk of freckled wildcat.

Related Characters: Bill Driscoll (speaker), Sam , Johnny , Ebenezer Dorset
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I think you are a little high in your demands, and I hereby make you a counter-proposition, which I am inclined to believe you will accept. You bring Johnny home and pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree to take him off your hands.

Related Characters: Ebenezer Dorset (speaker), Sam , Johnny , Bill Driscoll
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

We took him home that night. We got him to go by telling him that his father had bought a silver-mounted rifle and a pair of moccasins for him, and we were going to hunt bears the next day.

Related Characters: Sam (speaker), Johnny , Bill Driscoll , Ebenezer Dorset
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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. His father peeled him away gradually, like a porous plaster.

Related Characters: Sam (speaker), Johnny , Bill Driscoll , Ebenezer Dorset
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Ebenezer Dorset Character Timeline in The Ransom of Red Chief

The timeline below shows where the character Ebenezer Dorset appears in The Ransom of Red Chief. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Ransom of Red Chief
Crime, Violence, and Empathy Theme Icon
Outsiders Theme Icon
...nearby cave two miles from town and, after sundown, they drive a rented buggy past  Ebenezer’s house and try to entice Johnny, who is playing outside, into the buggy with an... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Outsiders Theme Icon
Ebenezer’s letter declares that Sam’s ransom demand is too high, and he makes a counter-proposition: they... (full context)
Imagination and Play Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Outsiders Theme Icon
Sam is shocked at the audacity of Ebenezer’s response, but Bill is relieved to think their ordeal may finally be at an end.... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Outsiders Theme Icon
At midnight, Sam and Bill bring Johnny to Ebenezer’s house in Summit and pay him $250. Johnny, upset when realizing his friends are leaving,... (full context)