Study Guide

The Witches Chapter 4

By Roald Dahl

Chapter 4

The Grand High Witch

  • In the beginning of this chapter, we get some bad news from the will of the narrator's father: he and his wife wanted their son to stay with his Grandmamma, of course, but in England. Neither of them wants to go, but they respect the wishes of his dead parents and plan to head back to England, the Land of Strange Spelling.
  • The night before they leave, Grandmamma reveals a little more information about witches: There are more witches in Norway than in England, but the English ones are the meanest. In fact, English witches like to create powders that can transform a child into a creature hated by adults, so that the adults will then kill their own children. (Grandmamma wasn't kidding about them being the meanest.)
  • Also, witches are different in each country (in some places, they even make adults eat their own children). Each year, all the witches from each country get together for a secret meeting and listen to a lecture from The Grand High Witch Of All The World, ruler of all the witches. She's powerful, of course, and she's also rich because she creates her own money. (By the way, this is illegal.)
  • Now Grandmamma admits that she's a retired witchophile, which means that she used to spend her time trying to track down The Grand High Witch.
  • And with that, the narrator and his grandma move to England.
  • One day, the narrator is working on the tree house that he and his friend Timmy have been building. Along comes a woman (with gloves!) who offers him a snake. Hmmm.
  • She tries to lure him down, but he refuses and instead climbs high up into the tree until his Grandmamma comes out and assures him that the woman is gone. He has officially seen his first witch.
  • He tells his Grandmamma all about it, and it frightens her, too. After that whole scenario, the narrator becomes really paranoid about witches, and for good reason – it turns out this wouldn't be his only encounter with a witch. Dun dun dun!