“The Hitchhiker”

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Plot Description

The narrator of this story is never named, but it sounds very much as if it’s Dahl himself. What do you think?

Spoiler warning! The narrator is driving to London is his lovely new BMW when he picks up a hitchhiker. The man, who looks rather like a rat, mentions that he’s going to the horse races, but not to bet or work the ticket machines. The narrator is intrigued and says that he’s a writer. They get to talking about the car, and the narrator proudly states that it can hit one hundred and twenty-nine miles per hour. The hitchhiker doubts that, so once they hit a straight patch of road, the narrator steps on the gas. They’re almost there when a policeman on a motorcycle zooms past and signals them to stop. The cop is a bit of a bully and threatens to have the narrator thrown in prison. He takes down his address and also the address of the hitchhiker. Then he gives them a ticket and leaves and they continue on their way. The narrator is worried about the ticket, but the hitchhiker says it will be fine. They begin talking about their careers again, and eventually the hitchhiker announces that he is a “fingersmith.” He is so skilled with his hands that he even manages to remove the narrator’s belt without him noticing. He attends the races and steals money from the winners. “That policeman’s going to check up on you pretty thoroughly,” the narrator says. “Doesn’t that worry you a bit?” The hitchhiker responds that no one will be checking up on him, as policemen have notoriously bad memories. “What’s memory got to do with it?” the narrator asks. “It’s written down in his book, isn’t it?” The hitchhiker proudly announces that he’s stolen both books from the policeman. “Easiest job I ever done.” They pull off the road to burn the books.

Teacher Ideas