The Ransom of Red Chief

The Ransom of Red Chief
红猴的价格

based on The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry

LEVEL 1 (300 unique characters)

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Trying to make some fast cash, two small-time crooks devise a plan to kidnap the son of a wealthy family in a village and hold him for ransom. When the kidnapped boy pulls out his Hong Hou (“Red Monkey”) costume, the two burglars realize they may be in for more than they planned. As their ransom notes remain unanswered and their scheme starts to drag on, the two crooks find out for themselves how a child’s imagination can spell disaster for two inexperienced criminal minds.

Adaptation Notes

Perhaps best known for The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry is a well-known American writer of short stories. Written in 1910, the story The Ransom of Red Chief brilliantly tapped into a rich vein of comedy associated with the many difficulties of caring for a mischievous child. The “Red Chief” in the title, however, calls attention to the very different culture of the time, when “cowboys and Indians” was the most common game all children knew, and the United States had barely even begun to address its real issues of racial equality.

Clearly, the original “Red Chief” does not work in a Chinese context, even though the story’s larger theme of a child so unruly that he can barely be contained is all too familiar in the modern Chinese one-child household. And yet Chinese kids do have a uniquely Chinese hero all their own, unparalleled in his naughtiness: Sun Wukong, the Monkey King from Journey to the West. Thus, our story uses its own version of Sun Wukong, a modern-day, fictional caped simian superhero named 红猴 (Hóng Hóu), and gleefully jettisons the anachronistic “Red Chief.” You won’t miss him at all.

The following is a list of the characters from The Ransom of Red Chief in Chinese followed by their corresponding English names from Henry’s original story. There are, of course, other characters in the story besides these, but many do not have exact correspondences to the original. The names below aren’t translations; they’re new Chinese names used for the Chinese versions of the original characters. Think of them as all-new characters in a Chinese story.

  • 老马 (Lǎo Mǎ) – Bill
  • 林哥 (Lín Gē) – Sam
  • 高先生 (Gāo Xiānsheng) – Dorset
  • 红猴 (Hóng Hóu) – Johnny

Study Resources

Chapter 1: Sample

“坏人,你们1我吗?”早上六点,我和老马还在睡觉2,就听见有人在大叫3

林哥,会不会是村子4里的人来5我们了?”老马很快6穿7衣服8小心9地走到洞口10,看了一会儿,说:“奇怪11!一个人都没有。”

“坏人就是你们!”是孩子在说话。

林哥!”老马大叫3了一声,“是孩子!他在12上……”

我也很快6起来13了,穿7衣服8的时候,我发现14衣服8后面写着两个大字“坏人”。

“一定是孩子写的!”我一边想,一边15外走。老马衣服8上也写了这两个字,不过他好像16发现14

山洞17前面有一个大12,孩子很开心18地坐在上面。不过,他19了一20衣服8,现在看起来13有点21猴子。

“小孩儿,你穿7的是什么衣服8?”我22着问。

“我是红猴!不要叫我小孩儿!”孩子大声23说,“你们都小心9点,红猴厉害24的!”

“好吧,”我说,“我们叫你红猴红猴听话25,下来!”

“我不下去,红猴就喜欢在12上。”

“小孩儿,快下来,听见没有?!”老马红猴大叫3,“如果你不听话25,我就让你26着回家找爸爸!”

很快6红猴就从12上下来了,他生气27地对老马说:“我再说一次,我是红猴!不要叫我小孩儿!你总是要28我,你是不是觉得自己很厉害24?”红猴想了一下,从地上29起了一只虫子30,又说:“如果你真的那么厉害24,那就吃了这个虫子30吧!”

“啊……不要啊!”老马大叫3,“红猴,你厉害24,你最厉害24……”

红猴觉得这样很好玩31一下子3233到了老马身上34。他29出吃饭用的刀,大声23说:“再说一次,红猴比我厉害24!快说!”

  1. v. to fear
  2. 睡觉 shuìjiào vo. to sleep
  3. 大叫 dàjiào v. to cry out loudly
  4. 村子 cūnzi n. village, town
  5. zhuā v. to grab
  6. 很快 hěn kuài phrase quickly, soon
  7. 穿 chuān v. to put on, to wear
  8. 衣服 yīfu n. clothing
  9. 小心 xiǎoxīn v. to be careful
  10. 洞口 dòngkǒu n. mouth of a cave
  11. 奇怪 qíguài adj. strange
  12. shù n. tree
  13. 起来 qǐlai v. to get up
  14. 发现 fāxiàn v. to discover
  15. wǎng cov. toward
  16. 好像 hǎoxiàng adv. it seems (that)
  17. 山洞 shāndòng n. cave (in the mountains)
  18. 开心 kāixīn adj. happy
  19. huàn v. to change
  20. jiàn mw. [measure word for clothing, incidents]
  21. xiàng v. to resemble
  22. xiào v. to laugh, to smile
  23. 大声 dàshēng adv. loudly
  24. 厉害 lìhai adj. impressive
  25. 听话 tīnghuà vo. to be obedient, to listen
  26. v. to cry
  27. 生气 shēngqì vo. to get angry
  28. guǎn v. to manage, to handle
  29. v. to pick up
  30. 虫子 chóngzi n. bug, insect, worm
  31. 好玩 hǎowán adj. fun, amusing
  32. 一下子 yīxiàzi adv. all at once
  33. v. to ride on
  34. 身上 shēnshang n. on one’s body

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