Study Guide

The Witches Chapter 18

By Roald Dahl

Chapter 18

In the Kitchen

  • They begin to head off to the Dining Room at 7:30pm, and, just before they go, Grandmamma reminds our narrator that he has a tail, something he hadn't thought of yet. That will come in handy, for sure.
  • In the Dining Room, there are two long tables that are still empty – they're labeled as being for the members of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, so he knows that's where the witches will be seated.
  • Grandmamma tells the waiter that her grandson is sick, and tries to stall by ordering a glass of wine first. She wants to give him as much time as he needs to sneak into the kitchen. When the waiter leaves, she puts our narrator on the ground, and off he goes.
  • He sneaks through the Dining Room, passing the witches on the way, and finally makes it to the kitchen.
  • Whoa! It's kind of crazy inside the kitchen. If you've ever seen any Food Network reality show, you know what we're talking about.
  • A waiter comes in and says that a woman had complained about her meal. So, of course, they all spit in her food. This doesn't really have anything to do with the plot, but maybe Roald Dahl doesn't like complainers? Or maybe he doesn't have a high opinion of waiters and chefs?
  • Our narrator is still listening in and he hears that the soup for the witches will all be in one big silver pot.
  • Using his tail (like a trapeze artist, he thinks), he jumps around and lands himself on a shelf right above the pot, without being caught. (He's kind of like Remy the rat in Ratatouille.)
  • He pours the formula right into that silver pot, and just after he's done it, a cook comes by and pours the soup in, and a waiter comes and takes it away.
  • WHEW! He did it. Even if he doesn't ever make it back to Grandmamma, he'll at least go down knowing that the witches will all be turned into mice.
  • He's so excited (about his success and his new trapeze skills) that he forgets he's hiding. Oops! He gets spotted by a cook.
  • The cook cuts a piece of his tail off with a knife. Ouch. But he gets away.
  • Unfortunately, he gets away to the pants of another cook who, with a few exclamations of "Jeepers creepers!" (18.35), starts squirming around.
  • In all the commotion (including the man stripping down to his underpants) our narrator escapes unnoticed, into a bag of potatoes. When the door to the kitchen swings open again, he rushes back out into the Dining Room (still injured) and finds his way back onto Grandmamma's lap.
  • She's a little worried about his tail – and wraps it up with a handkerchief – but they're both thrilled about his success.
  • Our narrator gets back into the handbag with Bruno and watches the room. He sees that the witches have just finished their soup. It's almost show time.
  • Grandmamma and her grandson have a little conversation about the witches. (Grandmamma has become a good ventriloquist – she can't move her lips while she's talking or people will think she's talking to herself.) It turns out there were 84 of them (85 before the whole smoking-of-the-back-talker thing).
  • All of the sudden, our narrator notices Mr Jenkins coming toward their table. Look out!