Study Guide

The Witches Transformation

By Roald Dahl


"She was simply a part of the painting, just a picture painted on the canvas." (2.31)

According to Grandmamma, Solveg Christiansen was transformed by witches into a figure in a painting. This is different than some of the other transformations we see in the book, because Solveg can't continue to talk to her family or friends, like our narrator can once he's a mouse. If the witches are capable of it, why don't they just put all of the children into a painting, where they would have to be alone?

"After tventy-six seconds, child is not a child any longer. It is a mouse!" (8.54)

After our narrator's transformation, we find out that this isn't exactly true. A child is no longer a child, but it's not a mouse either – it's a child-mouse. A child-mouse can still do most of the things a child can do, he's just a little smaller.

It was astonishing how the mask transformed her. All of a sudden she became once again a rather pretty young lady. (10.9)

The Grand High Witch is so monstrous that she has to wear a mask. With it, she's rather pretty; without it, she looks as though her face has been "pickled in vinegar" (7.7). Talk about a difference. In the end, though, the mask doesn't truly transform her. In the same way that our narrator doesn't change personalities when he becomes a mouse, the Grand High Witch is just as evil, mask or not.

Bruno was getting smaller by the second. I could see him shrinking...

Now his clothes seemed to be disappearing and brown fur was growing all over his body...

Suddenly he had a tail...

And then he had whiskers...

Now he had four feet. (10.26-30)

Can you imagine this? Literally, can you picture it in your head? Creepy, right? Quentin Blake, the illustrator, probably had a wonderful time drawing this, and what he came up with is worth checking out.

<em>I am not myself any longer! </em>(12.15)

This phrase is kind of an oxymoron, right? That means it doesn't really make any sense because it contradicts itself. If you say "I," you can't not be yourself anymore. That turns out to be exactly true for our narrator. He is himself, just in mouse form.

<em>Yes, </em>I told myself, <em>I don't think it is at all a bad thing to be a mouse</em>. (13.7)

Our narrator handles his mouse transformation pretty stinkin' well. Can you imagine if you were turned into a mouse? How would you feel? Shmoop would not be very happy about it, unless of course, there were mice-sized keyboards so we could continue Shmooping.

"Oh, by the way, you do realise you've got a tail, don't you?" […]

"I must say that never occurred to me," I said. "Good gracious me, so I have! I can see it now! I can actually move it! It <em>is</em> rather grand, isn't it?" (18.16)

How funny that our narrator-mouse doesn't even realize he has a tail until his grandma mentions it. One more piece of proof that he doesn't necessarily feel different – he knows he can run fast, but, unless he looks in a mirror, he doesn't really know how different he looks. His transformation was only physical – nothing about his feelings or personality changed.

I watched him with envy. For weeks I had been trying to whistle like that but I hadn't succeeded once. Now I never would. (20.26)

This is one of the few times that our narrator seems a little disappointed about his transformation. It's not because he can't do big things, like go to school or ride a bike. It's because he can't whistle. It's the little things that bother us the most sometimes.

It was lovely to be back in Norway once again in my grandmother's fine old house. But now that I was so small, everything looked different and it took me quite a while to find my way around. (21.1)

Physical transformation leads to a change in perspective. Think about it this way. If you give a camera to a three-year-old and ask them to take pictures, you're going to get way different pictures than you would if you gave the camera to an adult. Kids and adults physically just can't see the same things. Now, imagine giving that camera to a mouse. Well, you get the point.

"I don't mind at all," I said. "It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you." (21.52)

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