Fantastic Mr. Fox: Characters & Quotes

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

It's a battle of man versus nature when three farmers decide to go after the fox stealing their livestock in Roald Dahl's ''Fantastic Mr. Fox''. In this lesson, we will take a closer look at some important characters and quotes in this story.

Introduction

In Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox, the title character has to face some pretty steep odds when three local farmers decide they've had enough of him stealing their birds. Unfortunately for them, this particular fox happens to be pretty ''fantastic,'' and manages to find a way to save himself, his family, and his friends. But who are these farmers, and who is this ''fantastic fox?'' Let's get to know some of the main characters and take a look at some descriptive quotes that help tell their tale.

Meet the Farmers

Boggis

There are three main human characters in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Each of these three men is a farmer who has ''done well'' with his farm. This is about the only good thing you can say about them. Boggis is an ''enormously fat'' chicken farmer. He has a lot of chickens, which is a good thing since he eats three of them everyday!

Boggis eats three chickens every day.
chicken dinner

Bunce

Bunce raises ducks and geese. Bunce is very short with a pot-belly. He is so short that ''his chin would have been underwater in the shallow end of any swimming-pool.'' He has a pretty bad diet too, consisting of doughnuts filled with mashed up goose-livers. Eating these doughnuts gives him ''a tummy-ache and a beastly temper.''

Bean

Boggis and Bunce are bad, but Bean may be the worst of them all. Like the other two men, Bean raises a kind of bird - turkeys. He also grows an apple orchard. Unlike the other two, Bean doesn't eat actual food. Instead, he drinks ''gallons of strong cider'' made from his apples. Because of his diet, Bean is ''thin as a pencil.'' Bean might be the most disgusting, since he never bathes.

The Farmers' Plan

Despite drinking too much strong cider, Bean is cleverer than the other two farmers. It is Bean who comes up with their plans to find and kill Mr. Fox. He is the one who realizes they will need ''machines'' and ''mechanical shovels'' in order to get to the foxes underground. Bean is also the most adamant when it comes to wanting Mr. Fox dead.

The three farmers in Dahl's story do not seem like the kind of people you would want as friends. They may be rich, but they are all ''about as nasty and mean as any men you could meet.'' In fact, children in their town sing a song about how unlikable they are. It goes:

''Boggis and Bunce and Bean, / One fat, one short, one lean. / These horrible crooks / So different in looks, / Were none the less equally mean.''

Because they are mean and self-centered, these three men become focused on killing the fox. They are too stubborn to give up, and even at the end of the book, after keeping watch for days, ''they are still waiting'' for the fox to come out.

The Animal Kingdom

Mr. & Mrs. Fox

Our hero of the story is Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox, married with four children, is the sole provider for his family. How does he provide? He steals from Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. The farmers know about his theft, but Mr. Fox is cleverer than any of them. He knows to walk into the wind so that the wind carries the smell of human to him. That way, he can avoid any farmer waiting for him with a gun.

Mr. Fox is the hero.
Fox

Mr. Fox is a family man. He loves his wife, Mrs. Fox, and their young ones. When their lives are threatened by starvation because of the three farmers, Mr. Fox's cleverness and dedication is what saves them all. First, he remembers that ''a fox can dig quicker than a man,'' which saves them from the farmers shoveling. He saves them all from starvation when he figures out how to navigate and dig tunnels to get into the farms from underground. After all, he remembers, ''nobody in the world can dig as quick as a fox!'' These are just some of the reasons Mrs. Fox insists her husband is a ''fantastic fox.''

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