What is the climax of the story "Poison" by Roald Dahl

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Throughout the story, Harry lies still in bed while a poisonous snake sleeps on his stomach, beneath his pyjama top. Meanwhile, a Hindu doctor named Ganderbai is called to the scene late at night, and he tries to ensure that Harry is safe. He injects him with a serum, and...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Throughout the story, Harry lies still in bed while a poisonous snake sleeps on his stomach, beneath his pyjama top. Meanwhile, a Hindu doctor named Ganderbai is called to the scene late at night, and he tries to ensure that Harry is safe. He injects him with a serum, and then he pours chloroform beneath the bed sheet and into the mattress, in an attempt to render the snake unconscious. Throughout all of this, the story seems to be building to a climax in which the snake will either bite Harry, or else be captured while unconscious.

However, neither of these expected climaxes happen, and instead the story's ending might be better described as an anti-climax. When the doctor pulls back the bed sheet, the snake seems to have vanished, or, more likely, it was never there at all. The doctor asks Harry if perhaps he might have been dreaming when he thought a snake was sleeping on his belly. Harry takes this as an accusation that he has been lying. He becomes angry and reveals himself as a racist. He shouts at Ganderbai, calling him a "dirty little Hindu sewer rat." The doctor then returns to his car, with the reader's sympathies, and drives off.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team