Boy is a funny, insightful and at times macabre glimpse into the early life of Roald Dahl, one of the world's favourite authors. We discover his experiences of the English public school system, the idyllic paradise of summer holidays in Norway, the pleasures (and pains) of the sweetshop, and how it is that he avoided being a Boazer. This is the unadulterated childhood - sad and funny, sinister and delightful - that inspired the much-loved children's writer. Book jacket.
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Below you can see a map of Norway, with the capital, Oslo, indicated with a star. The town that Harald Dahl grew up in is located a few miles southeast of the capital. (This annotation contains an image)
Roald Dahl is writing about his own life. What genre is this story?
La Rochelle and Paris are relatively far away from each other. Below is a map of the train that runs between the two cities, and their locations. (This annotation contains an image)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Which of the following statements is FALSE?
A map of Wales with Cardiff located can be seen below. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain how the inclusion of photographs affects the story.
Roald Dahl's writing style is often a bit quirky and unconventional, but allows the reader to hear the story from his point of view and in his voice.
Alpine plants are plants that grow at high altitudes. The website below is the website for the Alpine Garden Society, where you can access photos of different types of alpine plants to get an idea of what plants Harald collected. (This annotation contains a link)
This autobiography is being narrated by the main character. What point of view is this considered?
Watch the video below about foreshadowing. Do you think Roald Dahl is foreshadowing what will happen to his father? (This annotation contains a video)
When Harald Dahl declared that English schools are the best, what did he mean by that?
How do you remember your first classroom experience? Is it hazy like Roald Dahl's? Or is it vivid with clear memories?
When you read this paragraph, which sentence or sentences give you the greatest sense of Roald Dahl's voice coming through in the story? Explain your reasoning.
The Llandaff Cathedral School still exists. Below is their website, where you can see images of the Cathedral and read more about this place. (This annotation contains a link)
What is the author's main purpose for these sentences?
Sixpence was an amount of money in England that was equivalent to half a shilling. (This annotation contains an image)
Imagery is when the author paints a picture in the reader's mind with vivid, descriptive language. Watch the video below for more information on imagery, and see if you can pick out times that Roald Dahl uses imagery, like this one. (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the video below to answer the following question. How is Roald Dahl's childhood experience reflected in this video clip from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the movie version of a book he wrote later in his life? http://www.quietyoutube.com/watch?v=7PJPJy00514
Think about the stories surrounding the candy's origins. Do you think they're real? How do you know?
How do young boys typically handle teachers or adults that they are not particularly fond of? Do you think Roald and his friends will do anything to the owner of the candy shop?
What literary device is Roald Dahl using when he uses vivid language to describe Mrs. Pratchett?
What is it called when the author gives hints or clues towards events that will occur later in the story?
When Dahl writes this paragraph, he is interrupting the story and speaking directly to the reader. He is making sure to emphasize the fact that he did come up with this plan, although some might think he's giving himself credit to make himself look good.
This sentence is an example of figurative language. Dahl is comparing his group of friends to a gang of desperados by using the word like. What type of figurative language is this an example of?
What do you think the Closed sign on the door indicates?
It's a strange feeling when you realize as a child how your actions affect others. It feels like the biggest deal in the world, and it's all you can think about. You think something terrible is going to happen because of you, and the guilt piles up. How will this event affect Roald and his group of friends? How will they react?
Watch the trailer for the movie Matilda below, and answer the following question. Which of the following statements is TRUE when comparing Roald Dahl's childhood experiences to the trailer for Matilda? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUGHWje7liM
The Black Maria was a term for the black police van that transports prisoners.
Children are likely to exaggerate their thinking. What is it called when an author uses extreme exaggerations to get a point across?
Dahl doesn't use proper grammar or language when Mrs. Pratchett talks. He writes what she says so that it sounds the way she talks. He is emphasizing her dialect, or way of speaking, and adding to her characterization.
The way that Mrs. Pratchett drops her H's indicates she has a bit of a cockney accent. Below is a video of Audrey Hepburn playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. In this musical, Eliza is a woman who has a cockney accent, and the song in the video emphasizes how she drops the H's when she says Henry Higgins's name. (This annotation contains a video)
What type of figurative language does Mrs. Pratchett use when she compares the boys to, "nasty dirty little pigs" without using like or as?
An author can develop characters in two different ways. Direct characterization is when the author comes out and directly tells you what a character is like. For example: Mr. Coombes was a tall man. Indirect characterization is when the reader must infer what the character is like based on his actions. For example, Mr. Coombes is a mean man because he yelled at the students. As you read, try to think about what type of characterization Dahl is using. Also, think about how the characterization might be affected by the point of view.
What type of figurative language is, "swish-crack" an example of?
This type of punishment is called corporal punishment. The root word corp- means body, so the word means bodily punishment. Although this type of punishment is not as common today, several states still allow corporal punishment in schools for students who break the rules.
When you watch the trailer for Matilda after listening to Dahl's stories from childhood, you can see where his inspiration comes from. Make a connection between Matilda and Dahl's childhood experiences thus far. http://www.quietyoutube.com/watch?v=pnzLRDDijW0
Typical fiction stories follow a plot diagram seen below. Since this book is an autobiography, the typical plot diagram doesn't necessarily apply. How is the structure of an autobiography different? Does Dahl still use elements of fiction and the plot diagram to convey his story? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following words is the best antonym for idyllic?
This is indirect characterization of Roald's mother. What type of person is she? How can you tell?
Here is a map of the distance between London and Newcastle. (This annotation contains an image)
Using Dahl's description of Bestepapa, provide an example of direct characterization and indirect characterization. Explain your reasoning.
Below is a video that shows you how to poach fish like Dahl's family would have done. Their method was probably similar, but not exact. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the overall tone of Dahl when describing his experiences in Norway?
Watch the video below to understand the difference between tone and mood. Then, as you read, try to determine both the tone and mood of the stories Dahl tells. (This annotation contains a video)
Roald Dahl is telling us about the vacations he used to take when he was a child. Do you have any fond memories of trips you have taken with your family? Or any days that stick out in your mind as being extra special? The way you would tell your friends about that experience is similar to how Dahl is telling the reader. His writing shows his excitement and fondness for that time in his life.
Why do you think that Dahl describes his half-brother as fairly ancient?
Using the title of the chapter, what do you think the unpleasant memory has to do with? Do you think Dahl was sick? Did he get hurt?
You can visit the website below to read more about adenoids. (This annotation contains a link)
What is the overall mood of this scene?
Section 1 Quiz
Boarding-schools are schools where the students not only go to study, but they also live there. Dahl went to boarding school in England while his family stayed in South Wales.
Below is a picture that shows Weston-super-Mare several years earlier then when Dahl was there. But you can see how it looks like a little beach town with the long pier or boardwalk. (This annotation contains an image)
Use context clues to determine the meaning of tuck.
The way that Roald Dahl brought a trunk to boarding school is very similar to the way students at Hogwarts would pack a trunk for their time away from home in Harry Potter. (This annotation contains an image)
Think about what type of person this Headmaster might be based on the description by Dahl. Do you think this Headmaster is actually like that? Or is the point of view skewing the facts?
Make a prediction as to what the contents of the letters might contain. Give reasoning for your answers.
What must it have been like to go back and read the letters you wrote to your mother as a child thirty years later? Did you keep a journal when you were a child? Have you ever read it years later? What kind of thoughts do you think these letters brought up when Dahl re-read them?
Using textual evidence to answer, why might this story be titled Boy?
Throughout this autobiography, Dahl has described most adults as overpowering, authoritative, and mean to children. When a topic of situation continues to emerge in stories, the reader should take notice. Is this a developing theme? How does his experience with adults translate into his books?
How might the description of the Matron change if it was done by a third person narrator?
Certain words are spelled differently depending on where you're from. We spell the word "pajamas" in the United States, whereas in the United Kingdom, it is spelled "pyjamas." Also, the US writes "color," whereas the UK writes, "colour." As you read, see if there are any others words you notice are spelled differently.
What can we infer Arkle is like based on the fact that he continued to take care of his frog?
In the map below, you can see that Cardiff, Dahl's home, is north of Weston-super-Mare, where Dahl goes to school. The Bristol Channel, a body of water, separates them. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on previous events, how do you think the Matron is going to handle this situation?
Pay attention to the structure of this chapter. Analyze whether or not it follows the typical plot diagram. Does it start off setting the scene and the problem, and then moving into the story? Does it have a turning point which then leads us to the resolution of the story? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is the American spelling of the highlighted word?
In general, doctors are unsure about the function of the appendix. Some believe it serves a function as part of the immune system. Others believe that it was more necessary centuries ago when humans needed an extra organ to help break down the foods we were eating.
King Solomon is a Biblical character known for his wisdom. When an author references another piece of literature or art, such as the Bible, it is considered an allusion. When Roald Dahl references Solomon, it is considered an allusion.
Blancmange is a desert that has gelatin in it; therefore, Dahl is describing the Matron's bosom shaking like gelatin or Jell-o. There's a picture of blancmange below. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Dahl will get away with it? Will he be able to outsmart the adults?
Analyze the structure of this chapter. Did it follow a typical plot diagram? Explain your reasoning.
Dahl's sister had only one hour of training behind the wheel in order to be able to drive. What does this tell you about the driving regulations in the 1920s?
The UK term "open tourer" would be a synonym for what American word?
The children are urging the older sister to go faster. The author probably wouldn't have included this taunting if the older sister wasn't going to eventually go faster. What effect will that have on the story?
What type of figurative language is used in this highlighted sentence?
You've read about the medical practices that were used in those days. Do you think this "surgery" will be like the adenoids and the appendicitis operation?
What effect does chloroform have on patients? Hint: Use context clues, or look up the answer online.
Look at the illustration of Captain Hardcastle. This image probably conjures an idea of what he was like in your head. What type of characterization would you consider this? Indirect or direct?
When Dahl describes Captain Hardcastle's appearance, what type of characterization is this?
Before World War II occurred, World War I was referred to as the Great War. (Nobody knew it would be the first of two World Wars.)
Shell-shock was a very serious condition that affected veterans of World War I. Victims of shell-shock would twitch and jerk so much that sometimes they had difficulty walking.
Which sentence in this paragraph could be considered foreshadowing?
Watch the video below on conflict. While you're watching, think about the conflict that has occurred in this book. (This annotation contains a video)
Below is a picture of a pen with detachable nibs. (This annotation contains an image)
Make a prediction as to what is going to happen to get Dahl in trouble? Explain your reasoning.
A nine year old would be about the age of a fourth grader.
What type of conflict is occurring between Captain Hardcastle and Roald Dahl?
How does it feel to be wrongly accused of something by authority figures? Does it anger you? Upset you? Can you imagine what Dahl is experiencing at this moment?
What type of figurative language is the word "Crack!"?
Despite the injustice that Dahl felt with his punishment, he did have a support system in place where his friends sympathize and stayed in his corner.
For the most part, this chapter also follows the typical plot diagram. Which of the following events do you think would be considered the climax, or the turning point, of the story?
Dahl is comparing the Matron to a ship with white masts, like the one below. (This annotation contains an image)
A boil is similar to a very large pimple that is full of puss. Predict how the doctor will take care of Ellis's boil, using evidence from previous stories to support your answer.
Based on the author's introduction in this chapter, the reader can infer that Dahl is going to tell a story about how his family retaliated against his sister's new fiancé. As you read, pay attention to the structure of the story, and determine whether or not it follows a typical plot diagram. Also, keep in mind the different types of conflict that arise in this story.
What can we infer that Roald is going to do with this pipe?
Have you ever seen a couple like this? They are so preoccupied with each other that they don't take notice of what is happening around them?
This paragraph is an example of imagery because
Although this story is short, it does follow the typical plot diagram. The author sets up the story in the beginning, explaining the new fiancé and the problem the family had with him. He then leads to telling the story of them traveling to the area with the goats, and his idea to fill the pipe with goat droppings. The climax is when the Roald fills the pipe with the droppings, and when the fiancé smokes it, all finishing with him realizing the difference and realizing what has happened. Overall, this story, although short, follows the typical story arc.
What type of conflict was most prevalent in this chapter?
Below is a map of the southern portion of England. You will see that Kent is a county just east of where London is located. Therefore, the family no longer lives in Wales, but in England. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is an image of a butterfly collar, which would be similar to the one that Roald was expected to wear as part of his school uniform. (This annotation contains an image)
Using context clues, what are braces?
During this time, the wealthy British took pride in getting dressed up properly. Therefore, Dahl's experience with getting dressed in this formal way is just British tradition.
Section 2 Quiz
If you've read Harry Potter, you might be familiar with the term "prefect." Prefects are upperclassmen that take a leadership role, and are often in charge of making sure the underclassmen behave.
Dahl uses this paragraph to foreshadow what is to come later. Which of the following questions would be appropriate to ask yourself after reading this information?
The video below shows the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The man who places the crown on her head is Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury at that time, who would have also been Dahl's Headmaster at school. (This annotation contains a video)
What do you think of Dahl's comments about religion? Explain your reasoning.
Cadbury is mostly famous for their Creme Eggs that become available during the spring for Easter. Below is a picture of the Cadbury Creme Egg. (This annotation contains an image)
Dahl's love for candy and chocolates most likely inspired his writing of which novel?
Have you ever had a teacher like this? Where you got very little done because the teacher mostly told stories or became distracted?
Math doesn't have to be dull, it can be very interesting and exciting, like this lesson Corkers teaches. Below you will find a video that explains this mathematical reasoning. It's called exponential growth. (This annotation contains a video)
Although Corkers did not teach the children much math, what is the most important effect he had on Dahl?
The term Fag as it's used in this chapter is the title given to the servant of the studyholder at Repton. However, the term fag can also be a derogatory term for homosexuals. Today, it is considered very offensive to use this word to refer to homosexuals.
What can we infer that this means?
Dahl's description of the rules of fagging should lead us into a story that involves him. Based on his explanation that the last Fag to make it to the Boazer does the most menial task, the reader can assume that this is exactly what is going to happen to Dahl.
Do you think this chapter will be told more like a story, or just be an explanation of talents Dahl had as a young adult? Explain your reasoning.
Below is a video of some men playing Eton-Fives in 2010. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is the best antonym for melancholy?
Film was how photographers would take pictures when this book was published. Today, digital cameras have made it even easier to become a photographer.
Which English phrase matches the meaning of crème de la crème?
Below you will see a map that shows where Newfoundland is located. It is located east of Canada. (This annotation contains an image)
Dahl is saying that a symbol of status was carrying an umbrella. This defined you as a businessman. Today, what would you consider to be a symbol of status among businessmen? Explain your answer.
Dahl is such a beloved writer of children's fiction, that it's interesting to hear him say that he struggled greatly, and that it took courage to write.
You can see a map of Africa below, where Mombasa is highlighted. It is located in the country of Kenya. (This annotation contains an image)
When Roald's mother reacts with joy instead of distress, it shows us a lot about her character. What type of characterization is this?
Section 3 Quiz