Genesis and Catastrophe.
Roald Dahl is an author with the ability to create a story which however bizarre and unique it is, he is still able to create a love for his writing in his readers through his intelligent techniques and interesting relevance. This particular story is based on real events and is formed on a man’s beginning who many know little about despite knowing the name so well, Adolf Hitler. Dahl’s ability to command such strong feelings of sorrow and compassion for such an evil and hated man shows the extent to which he can expand his literary merits and the wonderful distinctness of his stories.
There are many distinctive features in the story, being the extensive use of dialogue, the use of outside knowledge to further engage the reader, and the overall plot twist. The short story is compiled mainly of dialogue, leaving the reader to decipher the deeper intentions of the words. Klara, the distressed mother who asks about the baby’s health so many times catches the reader’s feelings and due to her unfavourable past we feel deep sorrow and compassionate for her. Without Dahl’s selective choice of words we would not feel so deeply for her and his intention would not come through so throughly during the plot twist. With the abrupt reveal of the baby’s identity it is difficult to comprehend the full meaning of the revelation at first. Once it sets in as a reader I began to struggle with the flood of links and thoughts I had about Adolf Hitler and the immediate contrast to the thoughts I had about the innocent baby. As humans we are prone to judgement and negativity. The realisation that we as readers, can feel such sorrow for a terrible man brings us down to the roots of our humanity and really challenges our ability to disregard our prejudice defences and evaluate a person on account of their present being.
By the end I was left with mixed emotions as the harrowing short story disturbed and unsettled me. I wondered if Hitler was a product of his terrible upbringing, yet still struggled to feel any sympathy for such a man. While I did not particularly enjoy it, it gave me another insight into Dahl’s more unexplored writings as well as his character. Having grown up knowing and loving Roald Dahl’s playful and light-hearted humour in his children’s books, I went into this short story expecting something quite different to this dark and ominous piece.