Unexpected ending, typical Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl always ends his stories very unexpected. Today I’ve read the short story “The Man from the South”, and I have to say, the ending was really not what I expected. The story is about the main character on a holiday in Jamaica. By the hotel pool he meets a man with a funny accent. The man is from a Spanish speaking country in South-America.

They sit down together and watch the people splashing around in the pool. After a while one of the men gets out of the pool and joins the main character and the man from the south. He offers them a cigarette and the main character accepts the offer, while the man from the south says he prefers cigars and takes one out of his pocket. The man from the pool turns out to be an American soldier. The soldier offers  to light their smokes with his “never-failing” lighter. The man from the south thinks the soldier is a bit cockey and wants to bet against him and his lighter. They agree to bet and the  main character shal be the referee. The man from the south says that if the lighter lights 10 out of 10 times, the soldier wins his car. But if it fails 1 time out of the 10, the soldier looses his little finger on his left hand.

Together they all go up to the man from the south’s room and begin the bet. The way Roald Dahl has written the text it seems like the soldier will loose the bet and his finger. But -by the time the soldier flicks his lighter the eighth time a woman opens the door and runs over to the man from the south. She grabs his wrist and takes the chopper from him. She explains that the man from the south is mentaly ill and cant stand bets. He has earlier taken 47 fingers from different people, and lost 11 cars. It also turns out that the car the bet belonged to the woman. And that the man has nothing left to bet. The woman won it all from him a longe time ago. She says that it took a long time and was a hard job. In the end, the main character, spots the womans hand, and it has only two fingers.

I liked it. It is quite different from what I usually read, but once I had started reading I had to find out how it ended. I have read a lot of Roald Dahls books for children, but I have never read any of his books for adults. After reading this though, I think I might have to:)


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