The BFG by Roald Dahl

“I think it’s rotten that those foul giants should go off every night to eat humans. Humans have never done them any harm.”

“That is what the little piggy-wig is saying every day,” the BFG answered. “He is saying, ‘I has never done any harm to the human bean so why should he be eating me?’ “

 The BFG is whimsical, playful, and light-hearted. This isn’t to say it lacks a fair share of eccentric characters.

One night a giant abducts a little girl named Sophie who spies on him out of her window during the middle of the night. Luckily, this is a friendly giant who collects dreams and shares them with little children rathe than eating people. Sophie is introduced to the imaginative and dangerous land of the giants. However, she soon learns the other giants aren’t as friendly as her new friend, the BFG. Sophie and the BFG must work together to save the children of the world from being eaten by the rest of the giants.

Thematically the book hightlights the monstrosity of the giants in order to draw parallels to human’s unsavory behavior. The quote that opens this post stresses Sophie’s hypocrisy for criticizing the giants’ taste for humans, but she never thinks about human beings own carnivorous standpoint towards other innocent animals. However, for all the pains the BFG goes through to prove the hypocrisy of human beans (as he puts it!) that doesn’t stop him from later on gorging on bacon, eggs, and sausage himself, calling his earlier animal rights rant into question.  The most important theme is the affirmation that the little guy can beat the bigger guy, placing this work firmly in the patrimony of traditional fairy tales. The scrawny BFG who is considered a runt by the other giants with the help of Sophie, a nobody orphan, overcomes humongous giants and befriends Queens.

The real appeal of the novel is its skillful wordplay. Dahl is a master at playing with language, inventing nonsense words like “gobblefunking,” fizzwiggler,” and “scrumdiddlyumptious” that make sense to the reader when read in context, and accentuating the giant’s confused English where “human beings” becomes “human beans,” and “kidnapped” transforms into “kidsnatched.” I love the way Dahl approaches language so that it is as imaginative as the world and story itself, and it is this extra touch that makes a pretty decent story extra fun.

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3 thoughts on “The BFG by Roald Dahl

  1. I don’t know why but I have a Roald Dahl-block. I think it’s because I expect his works to be silly ….??? I’m not sure. This book, at least, sounds very Alice-in-Wonderland-ish. Thanks for the review …… you’ve made me take a step closer to Dahl. 🙂

      • Embarrassingly, that’s just it …….. I haven’t tried any of them, I just have an unexplainable aversion to them. Perhaps it’s because I saw trailers to the movies that looked silly ….??? I love children’s books so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t like them. But I have the same (although not so strong) feeling with the children’s author Edward Eager. Again, I’m not quite sure why. I think the only remedy is to read a book by each of them!

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