The story is told from the third-person omniscient perspective, but follows the point of view of Sophie, a small orphaned girl.
Tone and Mood
The tone of this story is a dark comedy, at times gruesome in its descriptions of humans being eaten, and at other times whimsical in its treatment of the BFG's linguistic ability. An example of this whimsicality is: "'The human bean,' the Giant went on, 'is coming in dillions of different flavours. For instance, human beans from Wales is tasting very whooshey of fish. There is something very fishy about Wales." (28)
Protagonist and Antagonist
The protagonist is Sophie, and the antagonists are the other nine giants, not including the BFG.
The major conflict is Sophie's and the BFG's desire to stop the other nine giants from eating human beings. The BFG agrees to help her and they in turn enlist the help of the Queen of England.
Sophie appears at the window of the Queen of England after the BFG gives the Queen a dream. In the dream, Sophie is also sitting at the window and she tells the Queen all about the people-eating giants and how they are responsible for missing people all around the world. The Queen wakes up and finds that her dream is real and she agrees to help Sophie and the BFG.
There is foreshadowing in the way the BFG constantly repeats to Sophie that no human has ever seen him, except her. This repetition foreshadows that by the end of the book, more humans will have seen him. In fact, that is exactly what happens, when Sophie introduces the BFG to the Queen in order to get her to help stop giants from eating humans. By the end of the book, the world's leaders send the BFG many gifts as a thank you for helping stop the giants.
The Queen is annoyed with her maid for dropping her breakfast at the sight of Sophie on her windowsill and expresses this in an understated way. Instead of yelling at or punishing the maid, the Queen reacts subtly: "'I was about to have mine,' the Queen said, 'but Mary dropped it.' The maid gulped" (160). Just the suggestion of the Queen's displeasure is enough to strike fear in the heart of her servants.
Another example of understatement is found on page 166 when the BFG bumps into a chandelier. "A shower of glass fell upon the poor BFG. 'Gunghummers and bogswinkles!' He cried. 'What was that?' 'It was Louis the Fifteenth,' the Queen said, looking slightly put out." Rather than describing the sadness and pique the Queen probably feels upon having such a valuable possession destroyed, the author understates her reaction by simply describing her as slightly put out, or just a little bit sad.
"Human beans from Panama is tasting very strong of hats." (26) This is an allusion to the well-known Panama hat.
There is also an allusion to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk on pages 92 and 93. The dream that the BFG gives to the Fleshlumpeater gives him nightmares of Jack, the giant killer. "'Jack is the only human bean all giants is frightened of,' the BFG told her. 'They is all absolutely terrified of Jack. They is all hearing that Jack is a famous giantkiller'" (92).
"In the moonlight, Sophie caught a glimpse of an enormous long pale wrinkly face with the most enormous ears. The nose was as sharp as a knife, and above the nose there were two bright flashing eyes, and the eyes were staring straight at Sophie. There was a fierce and devilish look about them" (15). This is the first time Sophie sees the BFG.
"The Bloodbottler was a gruesome sight. His skin was reddish-pink. There was black hair sprouting on his chest and arms and on his stomach. His foul face was round and squashy-looking. The eyes were tiny black holes. The nose as small. But the mouth was huge. It spread right across the face almost ear to ear, and it had lips that were like two gigantic purple frankfurters tying one on top of the other. Craggy yellow teeth stuck out between the two purple frankfurter lips, and rivers of spit ran down over the chin" (57). This vivid description gives the reader a good idea of what the Bloodbottler looks like, without us seeing him with our own eyes.
It is a paradox that the 24-foot tall BFG is considered a runt by his peers (36).
It is also a paradox that the BFG doesn't eat humans. He is the only one of his kind, unique among the giants. Every other giant does eat humans.
There is some parallelism in the way that both giants and humans fear each other. Humans fear giants because of how large they are and how they eat people, while giants fear humans because of the stories they have heard about Jack the giantkiller, who is really the boy from Jack and the Beanstalk. This is most clear when the Fleshlumpeater has his nightmare about Jack (92-93).
Metonymy and Synecdoche
Synecdoche: "You is about right! Giants is all cannybully and murderful" (25). The BFG speaks about the nine giants as though they are a single entity when he says "Giants" in the above quote.
Metonymy: "Those brutes out there are bound to catch me sooner or later and have me for tea" (39). Sophie is afraid that the other nine giants will eat her soon for tea. In this case, tea does not mean a cup of tea, but rather the English custom of having an afternoon meal, or tea, at "teatime" or around 4-6pm (Whitehead, NPR).
"Bit's of pale gold were flying among delicate frosty-white flakes of cloud, and over to one side the rim of the morning sun was coming up red as blood." (22)
"She was trembling like a leaf in the wind, and a finger of ice was running up and down the length of her spine." (24)
The BFG Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The BFG is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.