What Is “The Hitchhiker” by Roald Dahl About?

“The Hitchhiker,” a short story by Roald Dahl, is about a man (the story’s narrator) who picks up a hitchhiker while driving to London. The driver is pulled over for speeding by a police officer, who writes down the driver’s and hitchhiker’s information in a book. When the driver discovers that the hitchhiker stole the police officer’s book, they pull off the road to burn it.

The driver tells the hitchhiker that he is a writer, which makes it appear that he could, in fact, be Dahl himself. He appears proud of his BMW, and the hitchhiker encourages him to show how fast the car can go. This ultimately leads to his speeding ticket.

The hitchhiker, meanwhile, claims to be a “fingersmith,” which proves to be a delicate way of saying he is a pickpocket. He proves this when he shows the narrator that he has stolen his belt, and intends to steal money from the winners at the horse races they are headed to.

“The Hitchhiker” has been published in an anthology of other Dahl short stories; his short stories were written for adults, prior to the time he gained greater acclaim for writing books for children.