Mrs.

Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat
By Dahl Roald

Author’s Biography: Dahl Roald
He was a British novelist, short story writer, poet and fighter pilot
He was born in Wales to Norwegian parents
He served in the Royal Air Force during the World War II
His stories are known for their unexpected ending, often dark humor.

Plot:
Dahl introduces the story by commenting on the ruthless practice of American woman
marrying men, using them, and divorcing them just for financial gain. He claims that these
poor overworked men meet in bars and console themselves with tales in which cuckolded men
win one over the evil forces of femininity.
This story is "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat", which is about a hard-working dentist
and his devious wife. Mrs. Bixby leaves home once a month to visit her aunt in
Baltimore, but really she spends the time with her lover, the Colonel.
On this particular occasion she receives a parting gift from the Colonel, and when she
opens it on the train home she is amazed to find an extremely beautiful and valuable
mink coat. In a note the Colonel explains that their relationship has to end, but Mrs.
Bixby comforted herself in having her fabulous new possession. Immediately she
begins scheming and making up a story she can tell her husband about where she
obtained it.
She decides to visit a pawnbroker and borrow $50 against the coat, receiving a blank
pawn ticket in return. When she gets home she tells her husband that she found the
ticket in the back seat of a taxi. Since she doesn't want to be recognized by the
pawnbroker, she lets her husband go to claim the item after he promises that he'll give
whatever it is to her.
He calls her from work the next day to let her know that he has the item, and that
she's going to be really surprised and happy. Mrs. Bixby is too eager to wait, so she
goes to her husband's office to pick up the coat.
Imagine her surprise, then, when her husband places a mangy mink stole around her
neck! She pretends to be happy for her sake, while secretly planning to return to the
pawnbroker and accuse him of switching the coat for this worthless item.
On her way out of the office, though, she is passed by her husband's young assistant
secretary, Miss Pulteney... wearing the "beautiful black mink coat that the Colonel had
given to Mrs. Bixby."


Summary:
Mrs. Bixby and her husband, a dentist, live in a flat .Once a month, for years, (eigth
years she went by) Mrs Bixby would get on the train at Pennsylvania Station and travel
to Baltimore, supposedly visiting her old aunt, meanwhile she is having an affair with
the Colonel
One day, Mrs. Bixby gets a rare and expensive present from the Colonel: a black,
lustrous, and quite extravagant mink coat. A letter from the Colonel that came in the
box with the coat informs Mrs. Bixby that they can no longer see each other, and
suggests she tells her husband the mink coat was a present from her aunt for
Christmas. She is clearly in despair as she reads the letter.
Mrs. Bixby however knows that her aunt is far too poor to be given credit for the
purchase of the coat, and is intent on keeping it. She decides to go to a pawn-broker,
and sells the coat for $50. The pawn-broker gives her a pawn ticket, which she declines
to mark with any kind of name, or description. The ticket does however guarantee her
right to claim the coat at any time. She tells her husband that she found the pawn
ticket in the taxi, and he decides it would be best if he redeemed the ticket, in spite of
Mrs. Bixby's pleas.
The next day Mr. Bixby goes to the pawn shop to redeem the ticket and claim the
object it stands for. Mrs. Bixby gets her all excited about it and rushes to her husband's
office after he's claimed it. Just before she opens her eyes to see it, he says " It's real
mink!". She then opens her eyes to find it is mink, but that it is merely a small, mangy
stole, and not her coat. Mr. Bixby notes both that he will be coming home late that
night, and that since he spent $50 redeeming the ticket, that he will not be able to buy
Mrs. Bixby a Christmas present.
Mrs. Bixby is initially angry at the pawn-broker, thinking that he cheated her and kept
the coat. But as Mrs. Bixby leaves her husband's office a few moments later, Miss
Pulteney the secretary walks proudly out of the office, wearing the black and rare mink
coat that the Colonel gave to Mrs. Bixby. It is implied that Mr. Bixby is having an affair
with Miss Pulteney and decided to give her the coat, buying a tacky fur hat for his wife
instead.

Elements of Plot:
 Exposition: Mrs. B, after having an eight years affair with the Colonel, is given
an expensive coat as a parting gift.
 Rising: Mrs. B realizes her husband will question where the coat comes from, so
she comes up with a plan to keep the coat. She takes the coat to a pawnbroker,
then pretending to have found the ticket in the taxi. Her husband decides to
pick the item up on Monday

 Climax: Her husband gives her a mink scarf instead of the coat


 Falling Action: Her husband gave her another mink and Mrs. B tries to act
grateful, then her husband says he will be home late

 Resolution: Mrs. B sees Mr. Bixby’s assistant wearing her coat
Setting:
 Place: New York/Baltimore/Pawnshop/ Bixby apartment/Dental Office/ Train
 Time: Winter, due to the following words “Christmas present”, “mink coat”
Theme:
 Deceit
 Failed marriage
 Women taking advantages of husband
 What goes around comes around:
The results of things that one has done will someday have an effect on the person who
started the events. It means that whatever you do in this life to other people, whether it
is good or bad, the same will return to you. Maybe not in the exact same way, but trust
me, payback is a mess!
 What’s in dark comes to light: it means that if you are trying to hide something and
be deceitful then the truth always comes out. so there is no point in lying it will always
come back and bite you
 Cheaters never win
 Even if the action of cheating on somebody becomes common in society, no
deed goes unpunished or inconsequential

Style: Serious, the dialogue between Mr. and Mrs. Bixby shows their distant
relationship
Tone: Humorous, Ironic
Atmosphere: secretive,
Point of View: 3erd limited person. Omniscient, the narrator knows the thoughts of
Mrs. Bixby.
Characters:
 Mrs. Bixby: She is a very intelligent and tricky woman but dishonest, deceitful,
selfish and greedy. She actually acts selfishly and greedily because her first
reaction, after receiving the mink as a parting gift from her lover, is to think
about the price and money. She only cares about herself. It is clearly stated in
the story that she does not love her husband, neither her lover. She thinks Mr.
Bixby is incredible boring and tedious. She does not hesitate to lie in order to
get what she wants. She believes Mr. B is responsible for the failure of their
marriage. It seems she married him only for his stable financial situation.


 Mr. Bixby: Mr. Bixby is an ordinary man, simple and tedious. A bit stupid,
innocent and hard-worker.

 Miss Pulteney: a shy woman, Mr. Bixby’s secretary


 Wilkins: a very discreet man. He’s the Colonel’s servant

 Aunt Muade: the woman who Mrs. B pretended to visit in Baltimore once a
month.


 Colonel: The Colonel is a mysterious rich man. He has no family or wife. He
likes hunting and horse’s books. He lives in a charming house outside town and
has a few loyal servants

 Pawnbroker: the man who gives Mrs. Bixby the pawn ticket.
Unexpected ending: when Mrs. Bixby got out of her husband office, she ran into Miss
Pulteney who was wearing her mink coat
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