The BFG was my first Roald Dahl book. And this was after I watched the movie that came out last year. I know, I know! 27 years old (then) and never having read one of the most classic writers of all time. I know it’s a shame. But you know what they say. Better late than never. It’s never too late to fall in love with a story, however simple, however bumbling the protagonist is.
The BFG is the story of the Big Friendly Giant – the BFG, obviously – and Sophie, a young orphan living in a London orphanage. When Sophie spots the old giant in the streets in the night, thanks to her insomnia, the BFG plucks her from her bed and takes off at a run to Giant Country. There, she finds out that the BFG is actually friendly and an outcast from his community because he refuses to eat humans.
What follows is the sweetest exchange of words and wits between the BFG and Sophie, not to mention the BFG protecting Sophie from the other, more grisly and savage giants who wouldn’t think twice before popping her into their mouths. When Sophie asks the BFG why he doesn’t leave her, he tells her he cannot because then she would be a tattle-tale and tell everyone about the existence of giants. And what would he do then!
We have always thought of giants as cruel and maniacal, with limited vocabulary and savage instincts. Roald Dahl, in The BFG, fictionally refutes both these fictional claims.
Like in human beings, the actions of one person cannot be attributed to everyone, so it is in giants. What one or a particular number of giants do cannot be generalized as what every giant would do. And when it comes to vocabulary, it isn’t that the giants have a limited vocabulary. It is just that their understanding of the language is starkly different from how we see and interpret it.
Yes, the BFG is uneducated and cannot speak proper English. But his interpretation of human nature, what’s true, and what ought to be true is better than what most of us can bring forward. The words he uses for everyday things are adorable. We are human beans, not beings. The BFG has a language of his own, inspired from English. And you cannot help but laugh at his antics, become angry on his behalf, become ashamed on the part of humanity, and want to just snuggle into his ear and sleep as he hums a tune.
Roald Dahl is a master when it comes to children’s books. But the magic of it all is that the ‘children’s books’ that he writes are plenty appealing to adults as well. The simplicity loaded with a meaning that’s endearing, and the realization that maybe we need to change the way we look at things are two of the greatest things that The BFG has taught me. But it has also told me that believing in fairy tales if only for a moment or two is acceptable in adulthood. What’s more, it might be one of the most important things to relieve you of your stress!
I’m probably reading more than what The BFG has to offer, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do all this? If we could read such books and build back the ability to glean inspiration from the little things in life? If we could just disconnect from reality and let our imagination roam the lands of Giant Country and Dream Country, keeping in touch with our dreams, harvesting them, and watching them take fruit? Would that not be wonderful?
The BFG has made me more contemplative than I had expected it to. But what can I do? I loved the book as I loved the movie – something that I cannot say of every movie I watch that is based on a book that I have read. Both are as adorable, fascinating, and educative as each other.
So for all it’s worth, I am proud to say that I have finally read one of Roald Dahl’s works and I am glad that the book turned out to be The BFG!
Rating: 4/5 stars
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Picture Credit: Penguin Books Australia !