The BFG Themes

Sense in Nonsense

Just because someone speaks a different way, or does not have the same understanding of the world as you, does not mean that they are wrong. Though the BFG doesn't know how to read, in some ways he knows much more than Sophie. By taking her to Giant Country, he teaches her a lot about the world. She returns the favor in the end by teaching him how to read.

Things Beyond Human Comprehension

""I hope you will forgive me,' he [the BFG] said, 'if I tell you that humans beans I thinking they is very clever, but they is not." (100)

The BFG has a good point. Just a few days ago, Sophie didn't believe in giants, but there she is, in Giant Country with BFG. There are things that people do not understand and so they don't think they exist. BFG mentions the feeling that music gives us when our skins prickles, and the presence of aliens visiting earth, which he seems very sure about, but which Sophie dismisses. This shows that though Sophie is now open to the idea of giants, she is still human and close-minded about other things.

We can compare her reaction to that of the Queen's. She accepts the fact that there are giants and that they pose a threat almost as soon as she hears BFG's explanation. She treats the BFG with great kindness and has her servants go to great lengths to make sure he is comfortable and well-fed in her home. The Queen is more open-minded than Sophie.

"The matter with human beans,' the BFG went on, 'is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles." (98)

"Sophie was silent. This extraordinary giant was disturbing her ideas. He seemed to be leading her towards mysteries that were beyond her understanding." (102)

Killing People is Wrong

The BFG and Sophie engage in a discussion about humans killing one another in pages 77 to 79. The BFG describes to Sophie how giants grab humans by posing as trees or by lying down on top of houses and grabbing people from the street. They both agree that this is bad and Sophie says she is surprised giants haven't been caught before.

The BFG tells Sophie that they don't get caught because humans kill each other much more quickly and in greater numbers. So it is easy for a few people to go missing due to giants and not be noticed. The BFG says that people are the only animals who kill each other. Sophie tries to find examples of other animals who also kill each other, but can't. She points out that cats eat mice, but the BFG says that that is not the same thing as killing your own people. A cat doesn't kill another cat. Giants also don't kill each other. Human beings do. This puzzles the BFG and he dislikes it.

Sophie then begins to "wonder whether humans were actually any better than giants" (79).

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Although the BFG doesn't think it's right that humans kill each other, he doesn't think that giants should eat them either. Just because humans are doing something wrong does not justify the giants also doing something wrong. Or in the BFG's words, "One right is not making two lefts" (79).

Humans Sleep Away Years

The BFG points out to Sophie, upon their return to Giant Country, that giants do not sleep as much as humans. "Human beans is crazy for sleeping. Is it ever occurring to you that a human bean who is fifty is spending about twenty years sleeping fast?" (87).

This is another example of the many things that humans do that are strange to giants, and that make them unlike other animals.

Be Careful Not to Overcorrect People

The BFG reminds Sophie to stay humble and kind several times, especially after she repeatedly corrects his grammar. The BFG also has a tendency to mix-up words and idioms, which Sophie corrects. The BFG points out that he has already told her before that he never went to school and that while he makes a lot of mistakes, he tries his best. "You is a lovely little girl, but please remember that you is not exactly Miss Knoweverything yourself" (100).

Dreams Can't Be Understood

The BFG explains this to Sophie several times throughout the book. When BFG is mixing up the perfect dream for the Queen to explain the giant situation, Sophie gets confused by the process.

"'It's all a bit beyond me,' Sophie said. 'Dreams is full of mystery and magic,' the BFG said. 'Do not try to understand them." (128)

This is just one of many things that the BFG and Sophie discuss in which the BFG tells Sophie that it's fine if she doesn't understand everything.