CommentaryPlease comment on "The Umbrella Man" by Roald Dahl.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dahl seems to have an amazing gift for incorporating black humour and irony into his fiction to produce tales, that although are supposedly aimed at teenagers, equally appeal to adult sensibilities. This tale in particular is one of deception and irony. The tale is narrated by a twelve year old girl who goes to London with her mother. It is raining hard and they have no umbrella, but as they wait, they meet an old man who says he has lost his wallet and offers to sell them his umbrella so that he can get a taxi home. Although the umbrella is silk and beautiful, he only wants £1 for it. The mother suggests just giving him the money for the taxi, but the old man insists and the mother buys the umbrella. As the old man walks away, the daughter notices he suddenly transforms from being "feeble" to a lot more energetic. The mother, suspecting something, follows him. He goes into a pub, buys a drink with the money he has just sold the umbrella for, then, after he has finished, leaves, calmly stealing another umbrella as he exits, presumably to sell to another unsuspecting person. This "game" of the old man's is referred to humorously at the end, as the daughter suggests that he could carry on like this "all night." The mother responds that "I bet he prays like mad for rainy days." Thus black humour and deception are combined with the idea that things are not always what they first appear to be.

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