”Boy” is about Roald Dahl’s young days. Memories he had from the time he was 6 too he was 20. Mostly from school but also from his trips to Norway in the summer and what he did right after school. Since the book consists of several short histories, I’m going to take one story from each school, and make a summary of them.
Llandalf Cathedral School, 1923-25 (age 7-9)
The Great Mouse Plot
Every day when Roald and his friends went to or from school, they walked past a sweetshop. They lived for the sweetshop. It was the centre of their lives, except for one terrible drawback… The woman who owned the sweetshop was a horror! Her name was Mrs. Pratchett. She never smiled and she never spoke, except when she said things like “I’m watchin’ you so keep yer thievin’ fingers off them chocolates!”
One day, Roald and his friends found a dead mouse under their secret, loose floorboard in the classroom. Roald suggested that they could slip the mouse into one of Mrs. Pratchett’s jars of sweets! They did that, and the next day when they walked to school, the sweetshop was closed! One of Roald’s friends, Thwaites, had a dad that was a doctor, and Thwaites told that when old people got really scared, they could get a heart attack! For a while, Roald thought he had killed Mrs. Pratchett, but that was not the case... When they came to school, the Headmaster got everyone to line up around the playground. Suddenly, Mrs. Pratchett showed up. She walked down the line of boys until she came to the place where Roald and his friend were standing. She picked out all five of the boys that were in on The Mouse Plot, and then it went right to the Headmaster’s study, where they got three slaps with the cane…
St. Peter’s, 1925-29 (age 9-13)
Little Ellis and the boil
During Roald’s third term at St. Peter’s, he got the flu. He was put to bed in the Sick Room, next to a seven-year-old boy called Ellis. Ellis was there because of a bad-looking boil he had on the inside of his thigh. It was big as a plum and about the same colour to!
One morning, the doctor came with the Matron to examine Roald and Ellis. The doctor found out that Roald could go back to school tomorrow, and then he turned to check on Ellis. Ellis removed his pyjama trousers, and the doctor bent forward to look at the boil. “Hmmm,” he said. “That’s a nasty one, isn’t it? We’re going to have to do something about that, aren’t we Ellis?”
“What are you going to do?” Ellis asked, and the doctor answered that there was nothing to worry about… Just lie back and take no notice of me.”
The doctor crouched behind the bed so Ellis couldn’t see what he was doing, and then he took a scalpel out of his bag. The Matron handed him a towel, and suddenly, the doctor jumped up from the end of the bed, and flung the towel right in to Ellie’s face. Then he poked the scalpel in to the centre of the enormous boil. He gave the blade a quick twist and then withdrew it again before Ellis had time to get the towel of his face.
Ellis screamed! He never saw the scalpel, but he felt it and he screamed like a stuck pig. “Don’t make such a fuss about nothing,” the Matron said, and then she put a dressing on it.
Repton, 1929-36 (age 13-20)
Every now and again, all the boys at school got a plain, grey box. In that box, it was twelve different chocolates with the numbers one to twelve written under. Eleven of these bars were new inventions from the factory. The twelfth was a control bar that they all knew well. The chocolate was a gift from one of the great chocolate manufactures, Cadbury. Also in the box was a sheet of paper with the numbers one to twelve on it, as well as two blank columns, one for giving marks to each chocolate from one to ten, and the other for clever comments.
Roald started to realize that the large chocolate companies actually had inventing rooms to come up with new chocolate flavours. He started to picture himself working in one of the inventing rooms and suddenly he would come up with something really delicious. Then he would rush to Mr. Cadbury’s office, and when Mr. Cadbury tasted it, he would say that it was fantastic! It was those little cardboard boxes and the newly invented chocolate that later inspired Roald to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The book completes with Roald getting his dream-job, a job in The Shell Company. He always wanted to travel to places like Africa and China, and with this job he got to do that…