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“Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat” – Classroom Activities

These exercises were sent in by Jocelyn Allen, an Australian teaching English in Germany. They have been specially designed for non native English speakers. Thanks Jocelyn!


1. Analysis

With “Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat” Dahl tells a story within a story. Analyse the language and stylistic devices used by the author paying attention to:

  • Setting
  • Characters
  • Dialogue
  • Rising Action
  • Climax
  • Falling Action
  • Narrator
  • Figurative Language
  • Atmosphere

2. Comment / Discussion

Mrs Bixby says that she feels “a sort of eternal patient, someone who dwelt in the waiting room”. What does this tell us about their married life?

After Mrs Bixby reads the Colonel’s note, she experiences a variety of feelings that the author captures in single words and short sentences. Is this style of writing effective? Make a list of her changing emotions.

Write a character sketch of both husband and wife emphasising their differences.

Does it depend on whether you are male or female when it comes to taking sides with either Mr or Mrs Bixby?