“The Mildenhall Treasure” is a great story. It uses something called creative nonfiction. This is when a writer takes a real historical fact or story and uses nonfictional characters and techniques to recreate it differently. For instance, one can read a newspaper account of an event and have the same set of facts playing out in your mind, but then you can read a short story version of the same events and something happens: fictional elements adorn the nonfictional facts, and even dialogue can occur, which causes you to completely recreate the story in the theatre of your mind.
There was a lot of creative nonfiction in “The Mildenhall Treasure”. There were times when you could definitely tell were true and others when it wasn’t. One way to tell if a part is true is to ask yourself whether or not you think it would be true. For example, when it says “This was January and it was still dark, but he could tell there hadn’t been any snow in the night.” This is most likely true because when Dahl went to interview Gordan Butcher (the main character in this story), he probably mentioned the weather and that it hadn’t snowed during that night. Another example could be the time at which Mr. Butcher woke up. In the story, it says that he woke up at around 7:00 am. This is a detail that he might have mentioned to Dahl. For the untrue or made-up parts of the story, you can also guess these. Adjectives that you wouldn’t normally tell someone if you were telling a story. “As he moved through the half-daylight over the yard to the shed where his bicycle stood”: this is an example of something that he most likely was not told at the interview, and instead made it up so the story had a flow. He was probably told this along the lines of “I went outside to the shed and hopped onto my bike.” This very well could have been what Dahl had heard and he made all of that come from a short comment from Butcher. There are plenty more examples of this throughout the story. It can be very hard to tell which parts of the story are real and which parts of the story are made up. This is because if the storyteller (Butcher) loved the detail and mentioned every little thing then it would be very hard to find little things that were not real. But the fact is, we don’t know if Butcher talk extensively to Dahl – we do know they spoke for only a few hours.
Creative nonfiction can be used to furnish the mind, and even can use motif to touch upon theme. In this story, one motif would be “the grey sheet of metal”. This is because the story is about someone who finds Roman silver, although in the contents of the sentence it is used as a metaphor to describe the sky unfolding over Butcher’s head. Also, this phrase is used more than once in this story. Another motif could be the use of the place name, “Thistley Green”. While it is a real place near the setting of the story, perhaps Dahl uses it here because when Gordon first sees the silver below the dirt Dahl describes the color of it to be a sort of greenish color around the brim of the silver plate.
There are plenty more spread out across the story. It can be a little difficult at first to find a motif and that is because Dahl wove in little motifs throughout the story. He took a real story which he interviewed the witness himself and transformed the cold facts into something other people could enjoy. Dahl used his creative nonfiction skill to share and make timeless the story of Gordon Butcher and how he found the Mildenhall Treasure. Dahl is an amazing writer and has shown the technique of creative nonfiction in his writing. I absolutely loved reading this thrilling story. It had lots of detail and emphasis. I had to keep thinking back on what was real and what was not. It really messed with my mind.