Writer: Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl has written a lot of books, mostly about fictional stories. But in the autobiography “Boy” he describes his childhood in detail. He tells about incidents and experiences that occurred to him in the age of seven to nearly twenty-three (he explaines that it’s hard for him to remember anything at all from before his age of seven, and I don’t blame him). It’s remarkable that a man in his age can tell us so much about his childhood, and describe the persons and surroundings in such a great and realistic way - from boy to man.
As I said, “Boy” is an autobiography on Roald Dahls life, and it certainly is a well-written book.
Roald starts with telling us about his father, Harald Dahl, and how he leaved his mother-country Norway to travel around northern Europe, in seek of fortune. Together with his brother, he traveled to, amongst other, France, where his brother settled on the eastern shores. But Roalds father weren’t ready to settle, so he found companionship in what would later be his best friend. Together, they traveled by boat to Ireland, which was later to be Roalds birthplace. After this short commence, Roald starts to tell about his childhood in Ireland (Llandaff), and about his family in both Norway and England.
In spite of his handicap, Roalds father managed to become a prosperous business man, and when he died, Roalds mother inherited a lot of money. So Roald grew up with all the basic needs – and more; food on the table, clothes, education and a loving mother.
The story continues when he starts at school at the age of seven, at the time he attended Llandaff Cathedral School. He tells about the incident with Mrs. Prachett, when he and some of his friends put a mouse in a Gob Stopper-jar. This lead to Mrs. Prachett reporting the harm done to the headmaster of the school, and Roald and his friends got punished. And this is something Roald especially focuses on in his stories; throughout the book he tells a lot about the regulations and the school systems at the different schools he went to, and how much he disliked it.
The punishment-methods used at most schools at that time, are today illegal. Back then, the headmasters of the schools had a stick made of bambus. This, they used to hit the young boys with on their back, when they had broken the rules or done something the teachers or headmasters didn’t like. After a round with the stick, the boys could be severely injured. The headmasters demanded discipline, and the ones that didn’t obey were given a hard time.
Roald wasn’t one of the most unlucky when it came to punishment, but he tells us that even today, he can feel his heartbeats pound on his bottom whenever he sits down for a while.
Roald continues his story, telling us about the other two schools he attended to – the boarding school St. Peter and his main school, Repton. Since his father wanted him to go to an English school, rather than the Irish ones, Roald was sent away in his early years as a teenager – on his own. This was a rather dramatic turn in Roalds life, both because it was a hard life at the schools at that time, but also because he had such strong bonds to his mother. When Roald Dahl had been caned by the headmaster for putting the mouse in the Glob Stopper-jar at Mrs. Prachett’s, his mother had went strait to the headmaster in the evening and yelled to him that “nobody hits my son!”. Roald did also pretend to have appendicitis, and in that way getting sent home from the English school just to see his beloved mother. They were devoted to eachother, and maybe this good relationship with his mother was because he didn’t get to know his father well before he died.
From what he tells us about his parents, he apparently was very proud of them. And he has all rights to; his mother took care of six children all by herself, and his father overcome many hinders on the way to success.
The first chapter in the book is named “Papa and Mama”.
At the end of the book, Roald tells about his last years at school.
Since his mother still was a wealthy woman, he could choose any school he would like to go to. He was given several choices, but chose Repton (because it was the easiest name to pronounce). At Repton, the headmaster didn’t bother much about punishing the students. This assignment was a “privilege” to the Bozers, which were students with much importance either through good grades or great achievements in sports.
Lucky for Roald, sports were something he was exceptionally good at: He even became the Captain in two of the schools main sport-activities. But Roald turned down the offer of becoming a Bozer, anyway the other Bozers didn’t think he was “Bozer-material”.
The theme in this book is unquestionable childhood. When you read this book, you understand how important your childhood is, and how it affects the rest of your life. Your experiences as a child, plays an important part of how your personality is going to be like when you become a grown-up. I also think that maybe the book wants to tell the adults to raise their children in a proper way, so they can one day also become decent human beings.
I would recommend this book to both adults and younger ones. It is a lot of humorous moments in this book that will appeal to people in all ages. But there are also moments that is quite unpleasant (such as when Roald gets his tonsils removed), but I think these dramatic memories makes the reader to read onward, interested in what’s going to happen next. And in a bizarre way, some of the memories are rather humorous. And by knowing it’s all true, it becomes even funnier.
This book is worth your precious time!