The Way Up to Heaven

This study guide will help you analyse the short story “The Way Up to Heaven” by Roald Dahl. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, structure, characterisations, setting, narrator and point of view, language, and themes.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Way Up to Heaven”
Author: Roald Dahl
Date of Publication: 1954
Genre: Short story

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was a British author of Norwegian descent who wrote short stories, novels, poems and screenplays. The author is mostly known for his children stories and for the unexpected endings to his fiction. His most popular works today are James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.


You can find a short excerpt from our study guide below:


The ending of the short story includes its falling action and the plot-twist resolution.

In the falling action, Mrs Foster goes and enjoys her trip to Paris and acts in a strange way, more confident than usual, and seemingly relaxed that she is going back home (another foreshowing element): “When the six weeks were up, everybody was sad that she had to return to America, to her husband. Everybody, that is, except her. Surprisingly, she didn’t seem to mind as much as one might have expected...”

In fact, Mrs Foster seems to be thinking that there is “the possibility of a return in the not too distant future”, which indicates that she may suspect that she is going to move to Paris for good. This is yet another foreshadowing element.

Though the resolution is not explicit, the author leaves the readers assume that the woman had left for Paris leaving her husband to die trapped in the elevator, as when she returns, the man is absent but there is a “faint strange smell in the air” and Mrs Foster calls a repairman because the elevator is stuck: “She replaced the receiver and sat there at her husband’s desk, patiently waiting for the man who would be coming soon to repair the lift.”

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The Way Up to Heaven

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