An Analysis of A Piece of Cake by Roald Dahl

2280 Words Feb 13th, 2014 10 Pages
Commentary “A Piece of Cake”

“A Piece of Cake” is the third short story of Roald Dahl’s collection Over to you published in 1946. The collection deals with Royal Air Force pilots or civilians who participate in World War II. The story deals in a first part, with an unknown first-person narrator who doesn’t remember his accident well. Before the latter happens, he and Peter, his fellow pilot plan to head towards Mersah Matruh. As they prepare to fly off, an airman warns them to be careful. The narrator and his friend answer that it will be a “Piece of Cake”. As a matter of fact, it won’t. During their flight over the Libyan desert, they face troubles and before crashing, the narrator manages to get out of the plane. Eventually,
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Irony like humour are means of triggering off the euphoric tone throughout the three pages which narrate the accident and make the reader focus on the lightness of the tone rather than the accident. Paradoxically, the euphoric tone is also used to show the consequences of war. For example, the semantic field of the body is important: “all the muscles [….] went to work” or “Still the arms and legs did not fight […] they seemed […] they stayed quiet”. What is interesting is that the narrator has difficulties to coordinate his body. Although the dehumanization of war is not as strong as in “Death of an Old Old Man”, the facts that grammatically, the parts of the body are subjects of the sentences erase the “I” who stays a little bit back, as if he were unable to control his mind, his body. Humour is here to make the reader remember that beyond the comic atmosphere, war provokes tragic effects on human beings. Furthermore, as the homodiegetic narrator is dreaming, the comic dimension is underlined. The passage when the airmen are painting things on the plane is very absurd: “I laughed so much […] and rolled around on the sand and roared and roared […].” The repetition of the coordination underlines the absurdity of the scene and upsets the reader. It looks as though this scene were here to escape from reality as if war were only a game whose purpose is to make the enemies laugh. What is striking is the deep gap between the

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