The Umbrella Man

by Roald Dahl
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How does the narrator's mother treat the stranger at first in "The Umbrella Man"?

In "The Umbrella Man," the mother at first treats the stranger warily and with suspicion.

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At the beginning of the story the stranger approaches the narrator's mother and asks for a "small favour." The narrator describes her mother's initial reaction to the stranger as "very cool and distant." The narrator also says that her mother looked at the stranger "suspiciously." The implication is perhaps that...

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At the beginning of the story the stranger approaches the narrator's mother and asks for a "small favour." The narrator describes her mother's initial reaction to the stranger as "very cool and distant." The narrator also says that her mother looked at the stranger "suspiciously." The implication is perhaps that the mother expects the stranger to ask for money.

The stranger then proceeds to ask the mother for "some help," and the mother looks at him with what the narrator describes as a "frosty-nosed stare." The mother also replies to the stranger with a "sharpness" in her voice which implies that she does not trust him. She is wary and suspicious of his intentions. She eventually asks the stranger, "Are you asking me to give you money?" to which the stranger replies, "Oh, good gracious me, not!"

The stranger's assurance that he is not asking for money seems to make the mother a little less suspicious. She does, however, become rather impatient. She asks the stranger to "hurry up" and get to the point. The stranger then tells her that he can't walk home, as he usually does, because he is old, and his legs aren't as reliable as they once were. He offers to sell the mother his umbrella, for a very good price, so that he can take a taxi home. At this point the mother's initial reaction of wary suspicion and impatience starts to "melt a bit." She is reassured by the stranger's politeness and by the superior quality of the umbrella he is offering her.

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