Study Guide

The Witches Chapter 1

By Roald Dahl

Chapter 1

A Note about Witches

  • This book opens with a discussion about its own genre. Way to be super literary, Roald Dahl. So, fairy tales, as we know them, tend to be about witches with hats and broomsticks. But this story isn't like that, because, well, it's real. More particularly it's about "REAL WITCHES" (all capital letters).
  • It turns out that real witches (we're going to keep that lowercase even though Roald Dahl doesn't, because we're pretty sure it would get a little annoying otherwise...) look and act pretty normal, which makes it hard to pick one out of a crowd.
  • Other important information about real witches:
    1. They hate children and are always trying to figure out how to off them.
    2. They enjoy getting rid of children, at least once a week.
    3. They are sneaky and never get caught.
    4. They have all sorts of magic powers.
    5. There are way too many of them in every country. (Yes, even Luxembourg, smarty pants.)
    6. Witches are always women. No offense to women, it's just a fact.
    7. All witches seem like normal, run-of-the-mill ladies, which makes them super-dangerous, like a tiger that looks like a puppy.
  • We are now provided with an illustration of two women. Which of the two is the witch? There's no way of knowing... (Cue the scary music.)
  • Basically, anyone could be a witch: your neighbor, a passerby, your teacher... maybe even Shmoop? Nothing is impossible, says our narrator.
  • While there's no way of knowing for sure who's a witch, there are a few signs to help us out. Our narrator, kindly, plans to let us in on the secrets. (You might want to take notes.)
  • P.S. Our narrator doesn't have a name, so don't hold your breath.