What Is The Theme Of 'The Man From The South' By Roald Dahl?


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The Man From The South is a short story by British children's author Roald Dahl.

What Happens in the Story?
A little old man from Carlos meets a young boy by a hotel pool.

He challenges the boy to a bet – if the boy can successfully light his lighter ten times in a row, the old man will give him his convertible car. If the boy loses, the man will cut off his little finger.

The boy is half-way through the bet when a woman rushes in, claiming that the old man is mentally disturbed, and has already cut off forty-seven fingers. It’s later revealed that four of those fingers are her own.

What’s The Theme Of The Story?
I suppose you could say that the theme of the story is trust – or rather, that the moral of the story is not to trust everybody you meet.

The themes of Roald Dahl’s stories aren’t always clear – other than the good child versus evil adult motif – but his stories do usually have quite clear morals.

The Man From The South also suggests that you need to assess risks carefully before you take them, and that some people might have scary motives behind what they do.

You could also interpret the story as a warning – if something seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance that it is.

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