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In “The Umbrella Man” by Roald Dahl, the narrator’s 34 year old mother has taken her twelve-year-old daughter to the dentist. The two did not have an umbrella with them so the girl’s mother suggests they get a taxi back home. An old man then comes up to the mother. He asks for a small favor:
Forgetting his wallet, he had no money. Would she exchange his silk umbrella for a pound for his taxi-fare?
At first, the woman suspiciously hesitates. Thinking it over carefully and quizzing the man thoroughly, in the end, she capitulates and accepts the “deal.” The girl narrator sympathizes most with the man.
After concluding the “bargain”, mother and daughter see the man crossing the street in a terrific hurry. They follow him and see him going into a pub where he buys a whisky with the pound the mother had given him. They also see that before leaving the pub, the man steals one wet umbrella by the entrance. Once in the street, he stops another passer-by to exchange his umbrella for another pound.
"It isn't going to stop," my mother said. "We must go home." We Stood on the pavement in the rain, looking for a taxi.
Stony-faced, stubborn, stiff, and stern—these adjectives describe the mother in the story. Who would stand out in the rain with their little girl instead of waiting inside the restaurant? She has a suspicious mind. The mother shows no affection for her daughter as she snappishly tells her to be quiet. This is not a warm person.
As the mother proudly explains the importance of correctly judging people, the daughter notices that the old man has quickly crossed the street and is hurrying away. She does not like to be tricked.
'He doesn't look very tired to me,' she said. 'Did you see that!' my mother shrieked. 'Did you see what he did?' 'Ssshh!' I whispered. 'He's coming out!' We lowered the umbrella to hide our faces and peeped out from under it.
When the mother sees someone else being scammed by the tricky man, she seems to feel better about her own rip-off. In the end, she tells the daughter somewhat humorously and cynically, the man must really pray to have it rain every day.
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