One day, on an accidental occasion, a stranger is willing to bet with you on one of you skills which is not so critical, and you are likely to win. If you do succeed, according to the serious bet, you can get a quite new limousine from the man which is worth millions of dollars; If not, however, what you have to do is just to dedicate your little finger, which means, have that poor finger chopped instantly by the man and then you will be rushed to the hospital in the car you have not won. Thus, here comes your choice, to bet or not?
Coincidentally, there is someone else facing the same situation as yours, who is a character in the short story, Man from the South, which was published in 2008 and proved to be an intriguing thriller full of twists and turns and with appalling consequences. Roald Dahl, the author of Man from the South, as Michael Caldon defined, is the master of creating surprises, in whose stories, readers can hardly predict the results unless they’ve turned into the last page because there are so many transitions. 2008) And here, this piece of book report is focused on some information about this article and readers’ reaction to it, which include the plot, author’s purpose, the main theme and Bloom’s opinions about it. The plot of Man from the South is about an intriguing story which starts in a relaxing place and at a comfortable moment with a casual beginning, a suspenseful development and a surprising result. On a very occasional afternoon when I, the narrator, am sitting in the chair at the swimming pool enjoying the sunshine, I meet a small old man there who is immaculately dressed.
We are having a casual talk about the weather and the people in the pool. Soon later, a young naval cadet with his girlfriend, who have been swimming in the pool, join us. When he is lighting the cigarette he has offered us, he says that his lighter never failed, by which the old man was animated. Then the old man proposes a bet on whether the young man can light the lighter for ten times running without missing one. If he fulfills it, he can get a new Cadillac from the old man; and on the other way around, if he loses, what he is about to lose more is his little finger as well as the Cadillac.
After fiercely wrestling with himself, the young man finally agrees, leaving behind his girlfriend’s dissuasion as well as mine. When everything of the experiment has been ready in the man’s house in annex and there are only two flicks left, which means that the brave young man has passed eight tests before, a strange old woman opens the door and then rushes forward shouting at the old man. Through her narration, people on the scene all know that the old man is a menace who is so addicted to betting that he has taken altogether forty-seven fingers from different people and lost eleven cars, and ended up owning nothing in the world.
And the old woman herself, who has won everything from the old man a long time ago, only has one finger on her left hand, a thumb. In this short story, the author’s main purpose is to reveal the dark side of humanity through the small old man, which is mainly from two clues. Firstly, the full text stretches around the event, “betting”, which was provoked by the old man. For instance, when the young naval cadet says that his lighter always works, the old man just focuses on the word, ”always” and immediately becomes excited, because it is possible for him to carry out another bet.
Next, the story displays the dark side of the old man by describing his obsession with betting. When the old woman exposes the truth that he has taken forty-seven fingers and lost eleven cars so that in the end he has nothing at all of his own, the cruelty and abnormality of the man is entirely cleared. The theme of Man from the South is to sing the praises of the battle between two sides of human nature, the good and the dark side. From the article, it can be drawn that good side of humanity can eventually defeat the dark side, though it would take a lot of sacrifices and time.
Undisputedly, in this story, the small old man is the symbol of the dark side, who is absolutely a betting psycho and is keen on mutilating others’ physical fitness, from which he can get pleasure. On the other hand, the other characters, including the young cadet, his girlfriend, I and the old woman are on the side of good nature. The young man is courageous enough to take that bet in risk of his left pinky finger, who is fighting against the old man’s insanity in person.
As Leiv Arild Haugland insinuates, the self-confident young cadet is the critical character without whom the story cannot continue any further. (2012) And when the old man puts forward the absurd bet, the girl and I try to prevent the young man from getting into it to avoid a bloody consequence. In addition, the woman who has spent a lot of time winning everything from the old man to suppress his persecution of betting, is the genuine symbol of the good side of humanity. As Haakon Hoel Bakker reveals, the old woman who s thought to be unlikely to appear in the article turns out to be so natural and shocking a character as a result of her unusual experiences. (2012) Generally speaking, Man from the South, in Leiv Arild Haugland’s assertion, is an intriguing story which develops compactly and ends unexpectedly because of Roald’s competent creation,(2013) and my opinions about it are illustrated in the following five aspects. Firstly, in my opinion, the author does achieve his purpose of this story to reveal the dark side of human nature through the crazy old man.
By describing his sensitivity towards the word “always” and his excitement about carrying out the experiment, the author portrayed a man who is mentally disturbed and addicted to betting. After his past is exposed, the dark nature of the old man, which drove him to get joy from hurting others, is exposed as well. Secondly, I think the writing of this article is quite powerful and fascinating, which often holds my breath especially when it comes to the suspenseful part.
I would not deny that when the test goes on where the young man is flicking for the eighth time, I am frightened by the cliffhanging plot and I just want to escape from the oncoming cruel scene and to skip to the last part to see if it has a good ending. Just as Annie claims that Roald Dahl is inspired and experienced in writing from the other side compared to everyman and thus, has a good understanding of the art of story. (2010) Next, I suppose the strength of this story is very obvious, including the compact plot, eye-catchy description and surprising results.
What’s more, as Haakon Hoel Bakker maintains, another attraction of this article is the usage of the old man’s English dialect in the dialogues, such as the “pleees” instead of “please”, “dat” instead of “that”, which proves the man is from south and matches the title(2012); the weakness of this story, however, is that some settings are not clearly stated, which can be quite puzzling. For example, what is the relationship between the old man and the woman, why the old woman bet with the old man a long time ago and why it is her that took the old man here?
At last, my overall response to this short article is “thriller”, no matter the plot or the description. As to the plot, it is betting in a price of the little finger and especially when the old woman shows her finger that is quite scary; in addition, the thriller in description embodies in the process of the experiment, when it is approaching hard to the final tenth try. Therefore, seeing that how exciting the story is, I will absolutely recommend it to my friends to make them experience such a wonderful and frightening journey as well.
In conclusion, Man from the South, which is outstanding in plot construction, description and coherent writing, is worth reading for a thousand times. When the old man puts forward the conditions, when the young man agrees to take the bet, when the experiment is carried out in the eighth flick and when the old woman shows her left hand with only a thumb, the story succeeds in attracting readers’ attention and then twisting their expectation into a totally different direction.
As Tazar presumes, Man from the South is right the reflection of Roald Dahl’s attainments in producing a fascinating world in his works,(2011) which speaks highly of both this story and his creative writing. Man from the South not only shows the dark side of someone, but also indicates that righteous people can finally defeat the insanity.
Courtney from Study Moose
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