“The Wish” by Roald Dahl Summary

“The Wish” is a short story by Roald Dahl that appeared in his 1953 collection Someone Like You. It’s about a boy with an active imagination who makes a dangerous trek across a carpet. Here’s a summary of “The Wish”.

“The Wish” Summary

A boy sits at the bottom of the steps in his house. He looks at a scab on his knee and touches it. He gets his nail under it and it pops off easily. The smooth red skin under doesn’t hurt. He flicks the scab onto the carpet.

He has never paid much attention to the long carpet that spans the distance from the steps to the front door. He notices now how huge it is and is dazzled by the colors—red, black and yellow. His imagination starts working on the carpet. The red parts are red-hot lumps of coal, the black parts are poisonous snakes and the yellow parts are neutral. Stepping on red will burn him up, and stepping on black will get him fatally bitten. Only the yellow is safe, and there’s not much of it. If he can make it safely to the front door, he’ll get a puppy tomorrow for his birthday.

He stands higher on the stairs and takes in the terrain. The yellow is very thin in places; it’s a risky journey and he’s anxious. The thought of the snakes, in particular, makes him afraid. He decides he can do it. Just yesterday, he made it all the way from the stable to the summer-house without stepping on any cracks.

The Wish by Roald Dahl Summary
“The Wish” Summary

He takes a careful step onto some yellow and then another, where he pauses a moment. He walks the length of this section like a tightrope and then makes a long stride sideways. He nearly loses his balance and flails his arms to stay upright. He pauses again on the other side, tense and on his toes.

He relaxes, realizing he’s on a large patch of yellow. He rests there a while, but the thought of the puppy makes him go on. He continues stepping carefully, taking the route with less black. He’s almost halfway. He panics at the distance all around him. It reminds him of when he got lost in the woods.

He steps onto the only piece of yellow in reach. A snake raises its head and another one slithers up next to it. Terrified, the boy freezes up on his toes for a few minutes.

He takes a long step across a thick swath of black, with the tip of his sandal landing on an edge of yellow. He can’t bring his other leg across; his stance is too wide and he’s stuck doing the splits. He sees the river of black beneath him and starts to wobble. He waves his arms frantically and falls over. Putting out his hand to break his fall, it lands in the middle of the glistening black mass. He cries out in terror.

Outside, far behind the house, his mother is looking for him.

I hope this summary of “The Wish” by Roald Dahl was helpful.