The Surgeon By Roald Dahl Summary, Theme, Characterization And Title - Smart English Notes (2023)


Sandy is as a profound surgeon who is not in the business for money. But upon saving a Saudi Arabian prince, he is offered a diamond worth almost a million dollars. He leaves with his wife for the weekend and they hide the diamond at a safe place in their house. When they return, they find their house was broken in and the diamond missing. Will it ever be found?

Outline of the Story

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Dr Robert sandy had recently saved the life of a Saudi Arabian prince. And as a reward, he was given a very large diamond. Sandy was amazed when his local jeweller told him it’s worth almost a million dollars. He rushed home to show it to his wife, who was just as excited. Robert and Betty wished to go on a tour to Egypt and Turkey and also Baalbek, and other places. They are going away for the weekend, though, so they decided to freeze the diamond into an ice cube tray in order to hide it from any thieves. When they returned, they were shocked to see that their house had, in fact, been burgled. Everything in their kitchen had been smashed and thrown on the floor, including the contents of the freezer. The police were called and searched them everywhere, but they couldn’t locate the diamond.

The next day, another surgeon at the hospital was operating on a young man with something lodged in his intestine. To the surgeon’s amazement, it was a large diamond. He and one of the hospital theatre sisters took it to the local jeweller to have it appraised. The jeweller recognized it as Dr Sandy’s and called the police. Sandy was also notified, and by the time he got to the spot the surgeon and sister were both in handcuff. Sandy recognized him and they told him their story. He then asked the police to release them and asked them to head to the hospital to arrest the recovering thief.The young hooligan had evidently made himself a drink in Dr Sandy’s house and he had swallowed the ice cube.

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Robert Sandy was a modest, hardworking man. He worked as a general surgeon in England. He was not at all concerned with fame and riches. Sandy enjoyed his work. One night he was the only surgeon available to work on a young man. The patient had been in a car wreck and had sustained massive abdominal injuries. Robert Sandy worked for three and a half hours to save the man’s life. By the next day, the patient was showing signs of recovery. He was the prince of Saudi Arabia and his associates wanted to move him to a hospital with famous surgeons. The patient said that he wanted to stay with the man who saved his life. Seven weeks later, he met with the prince who offered Sandy money, but the surgeon refused the money as always. Then, the prince gifted him a diamond. Sandy, who was quilted into accepting the diamond, came to know from Harry Gold, a jeweller, that the diamond was worth half a million dollars in the trade. The excited surgeon got on his bike and drove straight home to tell his wife Betty.

Betty was ecstatic. Soon they remembered that they were supposed to spend the weekend at their friends’ house. They couldn’t exactly bring the diamond with them, they would be anxious all weekend. They decided to freeze the diamond in a piece of ice and leave it in the icebox. So after they froze the diamond, they packed up and left for the Renshaws. After a pleasant weekend, Robert and Betty came back to find their house in ruins. Everything was smashed and thrown around. The kitchen was the worst of all. Robert and Betty called the police and told them about the diamond. The police looked, but could not find it.

The next day, two surgeons were operating on a young man who had a piece of something lodged in his intestine. William Haddock and a nurse looked at the object and realized it was a diamond. They used glass to test if it really was a diamond. They took it to Harry Gold to get appraised. Harry realized it was Robert’s diamond, and called him. Robert called the police and reached the jewellery store.

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William and the nurse were in handcuffs. They explained to Sandy the story of surgery and the removing of the diamond from the patient’s intestine. Sandy asked the police to release them and asked them to head to the hospital to arrest the recovering thief. The young hooligan John Diggs had evidently made himself a drink in Sandy’s house, and he had swallowed the ice cube in which the diamond was hidden.


There are various themes of the story. One can read the message of humility, magnanimity, loyalty and integrity in the character of Robert Sandy. He is a different doctor who presents a loud and clear message to the world of doctors and other professionals to work with zeal and loyalty that certainly pays you beyond your expectations. He in a way is a messiah who is preferred by the royal people over the costly doctors who lack the true ethics and the professionalism that the job demands. In the current scenario, the docs charge too much which is always beyond the reach of common masses.

On the other hand, one should not be careless about one‘s precious and costly things. These things need to be kept at some safe places where they are not stolen easily. In the story, it is quite strange to see that Sandys keeping the diamond in a freezing tray in the refrigerator. They leave the house unattended and see the result after returning.

Title of the Story

The title of the story is aptly “The Surgeon” as the entire actions are structured around Robert Sandy. It is also very interesting to read that the most precious stone the diamond comes back to Sandy after a surgery conducted on the thief.

Literary Elements

In “The Surgeon” one can find many literary elements while enjoying a humorous story. An example of a literary element used in the story is foreshadowing. Before Mr and Mrs Sandy leave to go out of town for the weekend, they talk about where they should hide the diamond in case a robbery was to occur. While a robbery is highly unlikely as they say, they still hide it. Their conversation about a possible robbery foreshadows that a robbery will occur later in the story, just as it does. Another example is dramatic irony. When the diamond resurfaces the audience/reader knows where it is, however everyone in the story does not know, leaving it a mystery to them.

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Character of Robert Sandy

Robert sandy is the main character of the story. He is a soft-spoken man with great humility and empathy. Sandy is a highly skilled and committed surgeon. He is a simple man and loves to ride a bicycle to attend his duty. He has devoted his life to operate and heal his patients with utmost patience. Sandy is humorous and a sober person with no inclination towards becoming famous and rich. He is a perfectionist and gives only the best possible care to his patients. He does not believe in receiving bribes, extra money or gifts from his patients. He feels happy to receive simple things like a bottle of beer from his patients as a gift.

He gets excited and feels delighted to receive a gift from the prince whom he had operated and cured recently. He eagerly wants to show the diamond to an expert goldsmith and then to his wife whom he loves very much. In a fit of humour, he tries to avoid telling the cost and forces his wife to think it out and takes time to tell her the real worth of the diamond. His work ethics make him a successful and most dedicated surgeon as the royal people avoid costly hospitals and love to be operated by him. He is an admirable person who never wants to see people in trouble as he quickly asks the inspector to release the doctor and the nurse and arrest the real thief.

In spite of all odds, Sandy‘s good work pays in the end. The diamond comes back to him because he really deserves it for his invaluable service, professionalism, modesty and honesty.


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