Seventeen Oranges Lesson Summary in English


A young delivery boy loves oranges but one day after an arrest, everything changes. Upon being caught for a crime, the narrator enforces a rather astonishing solution and escapes punishment.

Hide and Sneak

The narrator professes his love for oranges and tells how he loved eating them. However, one day, with seventeen oranges stuffed in his pockets, he gets caught by a policeman and has never tasted oranges since. The narrator drove a little pony-and-cart for the Swift Delivery Company and often went in and out of the docks.

He claims he was not a thief, he would just sneak a few things in his apron, that he made, and leave the docks. He would drive his little cart next to the banana boat and pick the bananas that fell off. Sometimes his friends would kick a bunch from the boat and he would quickly hide them under his big apron. 

The narrator makes it known that he would only take things when he found them and never actually planned a theft, unlike Clem Jones. Clem Jones, as the narrator describes, was a careful planner. He shares an incident where Clem Jones cleverly executes his plan. Jones was carrying a box, when stopped by Pongo, the policeman, he claims there is a ship cat in the box.

Pongo not believing Jones, asks him to open the box to which Jones replied that the cat will run away. Pongo makes him open the box, and a cat indeed jumps out and runs away with a very angry Jones chasing it. A few minutes later Jones returns with the same box and Pongo lets him leave. Later when Jones opens the box, instead of a cat there was Dutch cheese inside.

That was Clem’s story however, the narrator was not as lucky. Pongo caught him red handed. 

No Proof; No Punishment

Once the narrator’s apron string broke and Pongo upon noticing his bulging trouser pockets stopped him. Pongo caught the narrator by his collar and took the narrator to his cabin. He emptied the pockets and found seventeen oranges. Pongo cross with the dock robberies asks the narrator if he has anything more to say.

The narrator, an avid crime reader, knew not to make the mistake of talking. He was aware that anything he said would be used as evidence against him. Pongo wanted to take the court to case. He left the cabin in search of another officer to testify against the narrator. When he left, the seventeen oranges remained on the table. 

The narrator started thinking of the consequences, he would lose his job, go to prison and his father would be left helpless. The narrator had almost given up when a voice in his head gave him an idea. ‘Eat the oranges’ it said. The evidence would no longer remain and Pongo would have to release him. The narrator wasted no time. He quickly peeled the oranges, broke them into chunks and ate. He ate the oranges, the pips and even the peel, leaving no traces. 

Towards the end three orange were left and he heard the officers coming. With little time left he swallowed the first and second oranges. Suddenly the door began to open and although the narrator was full, he quickly swallowed the third one too. Pongo boldly presented the narrator as the thief, but was shocked to find the table empty and evidence nowhere in sight. What remained was just the scent of oranges. 

Pongo searched everywhere for the oranges, even frisked the narrator but he found nothing. He understood where the oranges had gone and was astonished. Eventually he had to let the narrator go. The narrator admits that eating seventeen oranges with pips and peels made him sick and kept working away in his stomach.


It was unethical of Pongo to lock the narrator in that cabin. However, the narrator’s illegal activity worried the narrator so much that he forgot his rights. He was himself in the wrong and hence could not think straight. One arrest and an overdose of oranges made the narrator forget his fondness for the fruit. Stealing will always have its consequences, sooner or later it will surely make one regret the act. If the narrator had just bought the oranges, he would be able to still enjoy his favourite fruit.