The story begins with the reader meeting Sophie, a young orphaned girl who lies awake in her bed at the orphanage, unable to sleep. She feels uncertain about what could be outside her window.
It is the dead of night. Curious about the world at this dark hour, she peers out her window and spots a "very tall and very black and very thin" giant (11). Sophie realizes he isn't a human but it takes her a few moments to decide that it must be a "giant person" (13).
She sees the giant blowing something out from a trumpet and into the bedrooms of other children. As she watches him, the giant's eyes suddenly flash to her, and afraid, Sophie tries to hide under her blanket. She waits under the blanket and tries to scream, but is too frightened.
However, the giant reaches through her window and plucks her out of bed. This time she does scream, but the giant takes her anyway. He carries her in her blanket as he gallops through the village.
Sophie finds the blanket very constricting and the ride very tumultuous. She sees the countryside whizz by at an impossible pace. Sophie curls up inside and worries that the giant will eat her for breakfast.
The giant runs across hills and valleys, rivers and forests, until he reaches his home, a cave in Giant Country. Inside, there are many jars stacked up high on shelves. Sophie is still worried that the giant will eat her.
Instead of eating her, the giant picks up Sophie gently and explains that while most giants do eat "human beans" (25), he, the BFG or Big Friendly Giant, does not. He explains the different flavors that human beings have, depending on what country they are from.
The reader is thrown into the journey with Sophie. The giant is shrouded in mystery and seems menacing at first, stealing Sophie from her home. We start in an orphanage and end in a completely new country.
From the beginning, the story foreshadows the true identity of the giant. Sophie worries that he will eat her for breakfast, but by the very fact that she hasn't been hurt by him so far, we know that this is unlikely.
The descriptions of the journey are beautiful but describe a country that is flat and yellow. Giant country is full of dead trees. There is nothing hospitable about this place. There is a piece of humor injected when Sophie describes the giant pausing to catch his breath (22). This is the first instance of many where we will see the classic humor of Roald Dahl come into the story.
Sophie continues to worry about being eaten. She imagines the many ways in which she might die, until she sees the jars that fill the shelves of the giant's home. Sophie is still frightened, but now she is even more curious.
While at first it seems like Sophie may be in danger, the giant named BFG turns out to be nice and friendly. Unfortunately, he is the only nice giant who doesn't eat humans.