Description

The Man From The South

The Man From The South is an illustrative oil painting inspired by the Roald Dahl short story of the same name. Read the short story here.

Man from the South” is a short story by Roald Dahl originally published in Collier’s in 1948.

While vacationing at a resort in Jamaica, the narrator encounters an elderly South American man named Carlos. They are soon joined by a young American naval cadet, who boasts about the reliability of his cigarette lighter. Carlos offers to bet his Cadillac against the American’s left little finger that the American cannot ignite the lighter ten times in a row. The American accepts, with the narrator agreeing to act as referee and hold the car key, and they adjourn to Carlos’ room.

After Carlos has a maid bring in the necessary supplies, he ties the American’s left wrist to the table and the challenge begins. After the eighth successful strike, a woman bursts into the room and forces Carlos to drop the knife he has held ready to sever the American’s finger. She explains that Carlos is mentally disturbed, having played this game so often in their home country that they had to flee in order to keep the authorities from committing him to a psychiatric hospital. He has taken 47 fingers and lost 11 cars, but no longer has anything of his own to bet with; she won it all from him long ago, including the car he claimed to own. As the narrator offers the key to her, she reaches out to take it with a hand that has only its thumb and one finger still attached.