Study Guide

The Witches Family

By Roald Dahl

Family

The fact that I am still here and able to speak to you (however peculiar I may look) is due entirely to my wonderful grandmother. (2.1)

Do you agree with this comment by our narrator? Do you think he needed his Grandmamma in order to survive his adventure? Either way, how does this comment – made toward the beginning of the book – change the way we view his relationship with his grandma?

"Of course I don't," she said. "But I am afraid I must. The will said that you mother felt the same way about it, and it is important to respect the wishes of the parents." (4.10)

Grandmamma doesn't want to move to England – she is attached to her beloved Norway – but she will move there for her grandson. This shows her sense of sacrifice not only for her grandson (she'd do anything for him), but also for her deceased daughter and son-in-law. Family is clearly important to Grandmamma.

"Yes," my grandmother answered at last. "She's gone. I'm here, my darling. I'll look after you. You can come down now." (4.86)

Grandmamma is tough as nails and pretty stubborn. Once in a while, though, her caring, compassionate side shines through.

"Oh yes," the nurse answered, smiling. "She told us she simply had to get better because she had to look after you." (5.22)

Grandmamma is more concerned about her grandson than she is about her own health. Do you think the opposite is true, too?

Oh Grandmamma, what are they going to do to me? (12.1)

This sounds like something our narrator might have said in a conversation with his grandma, right? Yet he actually <em>thinks</em> this when his grandma isn't anywhere nearby! This just goes to show you that their bond is so tight that, even when he's thinking to himself, he's thinking to his grandma, too.

<em>My grandmother is a human, but I know for certain that she will always love me whoever I am. </em>(13.6)

Well isn't this just the sappiest thing you've ever heard? Yep. The fact that our narrator doesn't even blink an eye when thinking this, though, shows how sure he is of his grandma's unconditional love for him.

"I know I'm not a boy any longer and I never will be again, but I'll be quite all right as long as there's always you to look after me." (14.16)

In some ways, our narrator needs his grandma more now than when he was a boy. As we see toward the end, she has to rig up some strange gadgets to help him get around, and she even has to construct a mouse toothbrush for him. He's not kidding when he says he'll always need her to look after him. As a boy, he would have grown into a man and not needed her anymore. As a mouse, he'll always need her help.

"You're doing beautifully," I said. (18.65)

Shmoop thinks this is a sweet moment. This sounds like something a grandma (or mom or other adult) might say to a child. Instead, we hear our narrator saying it to his grandma, assuring her that she's doing a great job keeping everything on the DL. This not only shows how mature our narrator is, but shows what a mutually loving and caring relationship he has with his Grandmamma.

"Because I would never want to live longer than you," I said. "I couldn't stand being looked after by anybody else." (21.29)

This is a bittersweet moment, don't you think? Our narrator is happy to hear that he'll only live about nine years longer because he doesn't want to exist in this world without his grandma. Clearly he loves his grandma more than anything, but Shmoop knows that life is definitely worth living even if you lose someone you love.

"Have <em>you</em> ever heard my heart humming away, Grandmamma?" I asked her.

"Often," she said. "I hear it when you are lying very close to me on the pillow at night." (21.48-49)

Have you ever been close enough to someone to hear their heart beat? If so, it was probably someone in your family, right? There are certain things that are shared with just the lucky few in life, and listening to a heartbeat is one of them. (Unless you're a doctor, of course.)