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The Witches

The Witches


by Roald Dahl

The Witches Theme of Transformation

Transformation in The Witches is a very literal theme. That means that it's not about transforming something inside of you, changing yourself for the better, or any of that. It's about actual physical transformation. The witches like to change little boys and girls into other things: oil painting figures, chickens, slugs, porpoises, stone, and, of course, mice. The thing is, with the physical transformation, there is no emotional or internal transformation of any kind. When our narrator is changed into a mouse, he is still the same boy on the inside. He still thinks and talks like our narrator, and has the same personality. The same is true of Bruno Jenkins, who just cares about eating, whether he's a boy or a mouse. It seems like Roald Dahl is trying to tell us that it doesn't really matter what you look like on the outside, because it's what's on the inside that counts. It's cheesy, but true.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Why do the witches prefer to transform children into other things, instead of just smoking them away (like the Grand High Witch does to the witch who talks back)?
  2. Why is our narrator so happy as a mouse? Do you think he can really be happy like that for the rest of his life?
  3. Which of the transformation stories that Grandmamma tells at the beginning of the book is the most frightening to you? Why?
  4. We have to ask: if you could be transformed into any animal, what would you be?
  5. Were you surprised that the narrator was never turned back into a human? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Our narrator's life is way better as a mouse. Think of all the fun he can have!

Roald Dahl should have turned the narrator back into a human at the end of the book. That would have been the right kind of happy ending.

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