Fantastic Mr Fox Summary

Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr Fox

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Fantastic Mr Fox Summary

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Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 1970 children’s novel by British author Roald Dahl. One of Dahl’s most acclaimed and enduring titles, the novel centers around a clever anthropomorphic fox and his animal friends, who live near three cruel farmers. Although the farmers ruthlessly attempt to kill the animals, Mr. Fox and his friends are able to outfox them, and steal all the food they want. Fantastic Mr. Fox, like many of Dahl’s works, is a story of the underdog’s triumph over cruel and selfish forces. The novel also explores class structure, the importance of family, pride, hypocrisy, and the power of intelligence to overcome strength. It also has an environmentalist message, focusing on the conflict between man and the natural world. Having remained in print around the world since its release, Fantastic Mr. Fox won the 1994 BILBY Award in Australia. Two audiobook recordings were released, the first narrated by Roald Dahl himself. It has been adapted into stage plays and an opera, but is perhaps best known for its critically-acclaimed Wes Anderson adaptation from 2009, which was made using stop-motion animation and with George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Bill Murray providing voices. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature.

Fantastic Mr. Fox begins with Mr. Fox, his wife Mrs. Fox, and their four small children living in a hole under a tree overlooking a valley. In that valley are three large farms, owned by a trio of rich, cruel farmers named Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. All three of the farmers hate the wild animals that live on the outskirts of their farms, and try to kill them whenever they see one. Despite this danger, Mr. Fox provides for his family by stealing from the farms. Each night, he sneaks down to the surrounding farms to steal chickens, geese, ducks, bacon, eggs, or whatever else he can take to feed his family. Boggis, Bunce, and Bean frequently spot him and try to kill him, but he outwits them every time. Soon enough, Bean decides that the best way to end these thefts is for the three farmers to work together. The three evil farmers stake out Mr. Fox’s hole, and plan to shoot him when he emerges. Mr. Fox wasn’t prepared for this ambush, and flees when he sees them. However, his tail is shot off by a shotgun blast as he scurries away. The three farmers decide to take action before he can return: they grab shovels and begin to dig out the fox burrow. Although Mrs. Fox and the little foxes are terrified, Mr. Fox reminds them that they can dig faster than humans. They mount a fast escape, digging new tunnels to flee before the farmers can catch them. In a rage, the three farmers decide to dig out the entire hill to find the foxes. They use giant mechanical shovels attached to tractors and tear up the hill. The fox family continues to dig deeper, and the farmers stake out the hill with shotguns in hand. As days pass, Mrs. Fox becomes weak from fear and hunger, while Mr. Fox and his children continue to dig.

During their attempted escape, the Fox family run into Mr. Badger and his son. The badgers are horrified by what’s been done to the hill, and Mr. Badger reveals that all the digging animals, including rabbits, weasels, and moles, have all been forced underground. Mr. Badger is angry at Mr. Fox, blaming him for the destruction of the hill. Mr. Fox admits his fault, but says he has a plan to solve everything. Together with Mr. Badger, Mr. Fox digs into Boggis’ chicken house and steals several chickens. They then head to Bunce’s storehouse and steal the prepared ducks, geese, pork, and vegetables he was planning to sell. They take just enough to feed everyone, but not so much that the farmers will notice that anything’s been taken. Finally, Mr. Fox breaks into Bean’s secret cider cellar, and takes some cider to end the meal. Although Mr. Badger is still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of stealing, Mr. Fox explains they’re only stealing to feed their children and stay alive. He argues that stealing food may be technically wrong, but it’s nowhere near as bad as trying to kill someone. Mr. Badger accepts this, and he and Mr. Fox return to the tunnels, where a giant dining hall has been dug out. All the digging animals have a huge feast, and they toast “the fantastic Mr. Fox”. Meanwhile, outside, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean wait at the entrance to the tunnel, assuming the animals will be coming out any minute. The narrator ends the book by saying that they must be waiting till this very day.

Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. One of the most successful British writers of all time, he was also a flying ace in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. In addition to his numerous children’s novels (the most famous of which include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Matilda; and James and the Giant Peach), he also wrote several adult novels, and the screenplays for movies including You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He also wrote several episodes of British sci-fi anthologies for TV. Six of his children’s novels have been adapted into major motion pictures.