Understanding the text
Answer the following the questions.
- What did the child do to the scab on his knee?
The child picked a scab off his knee.
- What kind of effect did the carpet have on the child?
The carpet made the boy enter the fanciful world of the carpet.
- What was he afraid of while walking across the carpet?
He was afraid of snakes while he was walking across the carpet.
- What motivated and encouraged the child to start and continue on his journey?
A puppy he would be given for his birthday the following day motivated and encouraged him to start and continue on his journey.
- What did the child see as he looked down on the black patterns of the carpet?
The child saw the oily bodies of the snakes writhing as he looked down on the black patterns of the carpet.
Reference to the context
- The writer creates two voices in the story. Who are they?
The writer creates two voices in the story. They are author’s voice and character’s voice. The author takes the readers to the imaginative world through the third person narration. He is able to use the character of curiously imaginative young boy to help the readers reflect on the delicacy of their childhood innocence. On the other hand, the child as a major character of the story helps the readers experience the world of fantasy vividly.
- Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.
“…the black parts are snakes, poisonous snakes, adders mostly, and cobras, thick like tree trunk round the middle, and if I touched one of them, I’ll be bitten and I’ll die before tea time. And if I get across safely, without being burnt and without being bitten, I will be given a puppy for my birthday tomorrow,”
- What does ‘the black part’ mean?
The black part means poisonous snake.
- Who is the speaker?
The little child is the speaker.
- Why doesn’t the speaker want to be burnt?
The speaker doesn’t want to be burnt for a puppy for this birthday the following day.
- Which images and metaphors are used in the story?
In the story, imagery is built on metaphors. The first image he presents is the scab. Because of the boy’s overwhelming curiosity, the scab represents a special challenge he is never able to resist. In his mind, the carpet comes alive with its image. The carpet then becomes a metaphor for the challenges the boy faces to achieve his goal. The red spots seem to be hot coals, which can burn him. The black parts are writhing poisonous snakes, which represent evil, falsehoods and temptations. The boy’s worry of crossing the carpet is compared to the apprehension he will feel while growing up as he faces real obstacles in his path to maturity.
- Summarise the short story “The Wish” in about 200 words.
The story ‘The Wish’ written by a British novelist, Roald Dahl, is about a young boy’s fantasy in which his carpet is alive with snakes and fire. Using imagery and metaphor, Dahl uses the character of a curiously imaginative young boy to help us reflect on the delicacy of our childhood innocence. This story goes inside the mind of a young child to explore his imagination. This is about a young boy who had a frightening event in his childhood.
The story begins with a small boy who picks a scab off his knee. As he sits on the stairs, he happens to be aware of the large red, black, and yellow carpet that extends to the front door. He imaginatively tells himself that each different colour represents something else. The red parts of the carpet represent red-hot lumps of coal, that can burn him. The black parts are poisonous snakes that can bite him, and leave him to die. The yellow part is the only safe zone for him. If he gets across the carpet, he will be gifted a puppy for his birthday.
The boy starts his quest. The first part is easy going. He reaches some difficult parts and has to take long steps. He wobbles but stretches out his arms to be steady himself. He comes to a turning point and goes left. Although it seems more difficult there’s less black. He gets in the halfway point and knows he can neither turn back nor jump off.
The boy steps on to the next yellow patch and his foot comes within a centimeter close to the black. A snake stirs and raises its head to look at him. Another snake rises as well. The child is frozen with fear for several minutes. The next step is too long to jump. He transfers all his weight to his front foot. He attempts to then bring up his back foot but can’t. He gets stuck while doing splits.
The boy tries to move back, but he can’t. He is properly stuck. He looks down at the oily bodies of the snakes writhing underneath him. He starts to tremble, and tries to keep his balance by waving his arms. It doesn’t work. He starts to fall over towards the black. He gives a loud cry when he touches it. His mother is looking for him out in the sunshine, far away behind the house.
In this story, a young boy ponders a patterned carpet between him and the front door of his house. His imagination runs wild: He decides that the carpet’s red patches are hot coals and its black patches are writhing, poisonous snakes.
- The story shows the events through the eyes of the narrator and the child. Comparing the two styles, who presents more interesting or effective view for the readers? Why?
The child presents a more interesting view for the reader through his curious and intense imagination. The scene before him as witnessed is obvious and suspenseful. We feel that the images created in his mind are real and he is really in danger. He imagines the colorful carpet as a piece of adventurous journey. Through his consciousness, we encounter red hot lumps of coal and snakes as if they are before us.
- Is “The Wish” a story about self-confidence overcoming fear or about greed? Give your arguments.
This is a story about self-confidence overcoming fear. The initial success concerning the scab gives the child confidence and gives him the self-image of a hero, so he looks for a greater challenge. At the beginning he becomes anxious. Later he accepts the challenge to cross the carpet safely. It could be argued that the boy is motivated by greed—wanting the dog—but that seems secondary to the desire to face and overcome the challenge. The boy is not sure that he is really going to be rewarded with a puppy.