Roald Dahl

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The depression of the 1930’s was a very difficult time. With war suppressing the world and those within it, the impression this era left on society is immense (BBC). Having lived in Europe at this time, the author Roald Dahl reveals the influence which living in this time period has made. This is demonstrated in his stories “The Wish”, “Lamb to the Slaughter” and “Man from the South”. The significant situations of this era assist in the establishment of a foundation for his work, bringing the dominant sentiments into action within the characters, themes and settings of Dahl’s short stories.

When the Second World War ended in Europe, there was a sudden post-war realization that ultimately nothing would ever be the same (BBC). It was the end of a world war, but there was a continuation of conflict among and within all nations. The end of World War Two brought with it the consequences of communism, the continuance of additional wars, the economic drainage of countries, and mourning among all people from the casualties of war (WikiAnswers). Along with the war, the lives of the younger population were harmfully affected by private schools which implemented the idea of corporal punishment (Corporal Punishment Archive). The result of these two conditions is reflected in Roald Dahl’s stories, as he was influenced by both the war and his school. The subsisting conflicts, shrewd protagonists and grotesque atmospheres in Roald Dahl’s “The Wish”, “Lamb to the Slaughter”, and “Man from the South”. These writings expose the disturbed mentality of both Dahl and the society which he was apart of, produced by the influences of 1930’s education and war occurrences.

Roald Dahl’s stories revolve around ongoing conflicts, as conflict was an element which had an overwhelming presence during the time in which his stories were written. In each of Dahl’s stories, subsisting conflicts prevail over any other components in his work. In his short story, “The Wish”, Dahl presents a conflict of man versus self, or in this case child verses self. At the beginning of the story the central boy finds himself with an intriguing challenge to cross the “tremendous carpet” and “must walk all the way along it to the front door without touching [the red and black parts] (1). The boy reveals a conflict between his imagination and himself. He is against his imaginary creation that “the red parts of the carpet are red hot lumps of coal…if [he] touch[es] the red… [he] will be burnt up completely…the black parts are…poisonous snakes…if he touch[es] one of them [he] will be bitten and [he] will die before tea time” (1). He continues for “the fear of not getting the puppy compels him to go on” (5), revealing his perseverance towards his goal no matter how difficult it may appear, resulting in a horrible conflict against himself. In the story “Lamb to the Slaughter” there is a conflict of man versus man, where Mary Maloney disagrees with her husband’s suggestion of divorce, and so kills him with the leg of lamb she was making for dinner. Mary has been only an ideal wife devoted to the care of her husband as she “enjoy[ed] his company” and “loved to luxuriate in the presence of [him]”(1). Mary was also “with child” (1) providing her with an innocent presence, unworthy of the negativity from her husband, giving Mary a reason for her violent behaviour. There is a conflict between her and her husband Patrick. Once Mary fixes her predicament there is a constant struggle to disguise the evidence and to retain her innocent attitude by “keep[ing] things absolutely natural [so] there’ll be no need for any acting at all” (3). In “Man from the South”, from the first page of the story to the last, there is a conflict between Carlos and the American cadet. Carlos dislikes Americans and thinks they are obnoxiously strident (1). As Carlos continuously challenges and urges the cadet by degrading him saying “[he] is afraid” (2), a tension arises between the...
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