Sunday, December 18, 2011

Boy (Memoir)

                                                                                                             Boy: Tales of Childhood

     Children's author Roald Dahl gives a glimpse of his childhood in his memoir entitled Boy: Tales of Childhood. Dahl, beloved writer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and Matilda, brings his clever writing style to this memoir. He is quick to point out the fact that Boy is, "not an autobiography." Dahl claims that this memoir is a collection of stories from his childhood that are etched in his mind. He writes of his accounts that, "some are funny. Some are painful. Some are unpleasant. I suppose that is why I have always remembered them so vividly. All are true."   

The stories Dahl recounts cover his formative years from birth to age twenty. He delves into this family's life before his birth, including how is father lost half of his arm.

So much of this memoir highlights his strong relationship with his mother. This is something personally I really enjoyed because I have such a strong relationship with my mother. I found myself becoming very fond of Dahl's mother, Sophie, and I really respected her choices as a single mother. For example, when she found out that Mr. Coombe's had used corporal punishment against her child, she tells Roald, "They don't beat small children like that where I come from. I won't allow it." I admired the fact that she would stand-up for her child against an evil headmaster.

The amount of abuse and neglect towards children is quite disturbing. It is shocking to think of a culture that was so dismissive and abusive towards children. If I would use this memoir in the classroom with my students, I feel that the topic of child abuse and discipline would be an important topic to broach with students.

Boy captures the essence of Roald Dahl's young life. You can clearly see the parallels between Dahl's personal experiences and his creative writing. (I wonder if the Matron at St. Peter's was inspiration for Miss Trunchbull in Matilda?)

Rare Interview with Roald Dahl (1990)


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