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Boy by Roald Dahl: Summary & Quotes

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  • 0:04 ''Boy'' Summary
  • 1:08 Childhood to Adulthood
  • 2:15 Quotes About Writing
  • 2:49 Quotes About Religion
  • 3:23 Reflective Quotes
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Crystal Hall

Crystal has a bachelor's degree in English, a certification in General Studies, and has assisted in teaching both middle and high school English.

'Boy', by Roald Dahl, is the beginning book in a series of stories chronicling his own childhood. Originating with his parents, the story continues through Dahl's childhood and adolescence.

Boy Summary

In the novel Boy, readers travel back in time with Roald Dahl, celebrated children's book author, as he shares the stories of his childhood in Wales, beginning first with the lives of his parents and his uncle. He then discusses his birth, his education filled with hard knocks at boarding school, the comical adventures had by him and his friends, and his post-education employment and military experiences.

In Boy, Roald Dahl provides an autobiographical look into his early life. Beginning before his birth with his father, Harald, and his uncle, Oscar, Dahl details the different paths each brother took after leaving their home in Wales for new beginnings in France.

While Oscar found his fortune in the fishing and canning industry, Harald gained employment by supplying coal for large ships. Harald eventually married a young woman named Marie, who gave birth to two children before she died. Seeking a new wife, Harald moved back to Wales and fell in love with Sofie, a considerably younger woman who later became his second wife and Dahl's mother.

Childhood to Adulthood

During his early childhood, Dahl's family faced several hardships. One of his sisters died from appendicitis, and his father died shortly after from pneumonia. With no family in the country to help support her, Sofie was forced to relocate her children to smaller living quarters nearby to ensure her children be educated in English schools, as Harald had desired.

Dahl's time at school was filled with mischievous adventures with schoolmates, which sometimes resulted in savage caning by his teachers. In fact, ''The Trunchbull,'' an unpleasant and abusive school principal from Dahl's book Matilda, was inspired by his harsh educational disciplining experiences. Although school itself was not always enjoyable, he remembers joyous family vacations when on holiday from school fondly.

After many years of strict primary education, Dahl began working for an oil company called Royal Dutch Shell, where he remained stationed in the Middle East and Africa until entering World War II as a fighter pilot. He ends his story there, as a member of the Royal Air Force, beginning anew with the sequel to Boy, Going Solo.

Quotes About Writing

Over the course of Boy, Roald Dahl pens many memorable quotes, covering subjects such as the profession of writing, his personal thoughts on religion, and on personal reflection.

''A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.''

''The life of a writer is absolute hell. . . if he is a writer of fiction he lives in a world of fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.''

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