The story begins by describing three farmers, who are all reputed to being mean. Mr. Fox lives above their farms in the wood with his wife and children. When the family is hungry, Mr. Fox makes use of all three farms for their produce and none of the farmers are happy about being targeted. One thing I am enjoying about reading the story after seeing the movie is, now I hear George Clooney as the fox, which makes it more engaging. I’m also noticing Dahl has a lyrical way of writing even if he’s not laying down a poem. I’ve started to truly enjoy this story and at this point have finished the 4th chapter. Mr. Fox gets shot at when the three farmers discover his home and so he, his wife, and children barely escape, when Mr. Fox has a bright idea that proved to his wife and children what makes him a “fantastic fox”.
Once the three farmer’s go for the mechanical shovels to dig the foxes out of their hole, it begins reminding me of a more complex Three Little Pigs. The three farmer’s were so determined and mad and stubborn about killing Mr. Fox they began making oaths to resist giving up until they’ve reached their goal. Mrs. Fox becomes too weak to go on anymore adventures with Mr. Fox, so the children volunteer themselves so they can prove how smart and brave they are to Mr. Fox who is almost immediately satisfied by their excitement and insistence on helping.
Also the play on words is quite subtle, if the reader doesn’t pay attention closely, it’s easily missed. I noticed it most plainly in Chapter 10. After being quite clever again, he sends one of his children back with a wonderful gift whilst he and his other children continue on another mission to set up a plan involving more digging, whilst Mrs. Fox uncovers new hope once her child shows up with the rejuvenating feast. They then run into Badger, who’s son and wife, Mole, Rabbit, and Weasel, plus their wives and children are all in the same predicament and Mr. Fox let’s him pity himself for a moment before inviting them all along to the incredible feast Mrs. Fox is preparing. Then, again like the Three Little Pigs, Mr. Fox cleverly breaks into the second farmer’s storehouse. Once they start listing different meats to swipe, I’m all in, but then Mr. Fox get’s down on one of his children when he suggests taking some carrots, gets called a twerp, until it’s explained that he was thinking of the rabbits. That seemed a bit harsh, if not a little bit funny. Before it’s time in the self-deprecating parental-joke department.
After getting back to the tunnel, Mr. Fox sends two more of his children back to their mother with their loot and the message Mr. Fox and Co. will return after one last task. Badger and Mr. Fox talk about stooping to “evil” people’s levels and I must agree. There is certainly no need for it, which Dahl apparently wanted to get across in this strange and fantastic tale–or lack thereof, (Bad pun). Mr. Fox runs into Rat who’s guarding the last farmer’s stock of food, trying to turn Mr. Fox away, won’t be ignored. Dahl is also fond of alliteration, which is fun to run into periodically. When they reach the third stockroom the other more European happenstance occurs when young Fox takes a swig of alcoholic beverage, told to stop as Mr. Fox takes a swig himself. At least it’s vague enough not to red flag any youngster’s who happen to encounter this story, if that’s a sensitive subject.
They escape the human without incident, also being able to swipe their last piece of loot. Mr. Fox and gang rejoin Mrs. Fox and all the families in one dining room area with all the food Mr. Fox and said crew took. The scene straight from an “Animal Thanksgiving”. Once Mr. Fox makes his speech at the table it starts to remind me of Disney’s, Robin Hood. He vows to have a town constructed underground since they are all marvelous diggers and are welcome and should stick together. Mr. Fox then offers to do all the shopping for everyone and live in an idyllic underground town with everyone mentioned. The three farmer’s have a moronic ending by still awaiting Mr. Fox’s return out of the hole. Well worth the read, quite entertaining. To read my review of, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.