Friday, May 24, 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Rating: 4 out 5 stars
155 pages

Roald Dahl's children's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a charming, yet slightly oft-putting story about a humble young boy named Charlie Bucket who inherits a famous chocolate factory. Although it is imaginative and entertaining, in some of the scenes the chocolate factory owner, Willy Wonka, appears to be unconcerned about the children's safety. Nevertheless, Dahl's hero makes up for the lack of decency in the other characters.

The book opens with a picture of Charlie's grandparents and a comment that the people in the bed are very old--Dahl's typical blunt humor. The four grandparents share a bed and have not gotten out of it in twenty years due to their feeble health. They are Mr. and Mrs. Bucket's parents. They all share a tiny two bedroom house and are severely malnourished due to their impoverishment.

During one rough winter when Mr. Bucket, who is the sole income provider for the household, loses his job at the toothpaste factory, an announcement in the newspaper brings temporary excitement to the Bucket home. Willy Wonka would open his chocolate factory for the first time in over ten years to winners of the five Golden Tickets distributed in Wonka's candy. Charlie was not very optimistic about his chances of finding a ticket because he had no money to buy a lot of candy like other children. However, his birthday gift every year was a Wonka candy bar, and this year's candy might have the ticket. With his family gathered around he opened the wrapper, but there was no ticket.

Meanwhile, Golden Ticket winners were announced in the papers: Augustus Gloop, described as being enormously fat and greedy, Veruca Salt, a spoiled rich girl, Violet Beauregarde, a girl with a chewing gum addiction, and Mike Teavee, a boy who is obsessed with television. Charlie and his family had given up on the idea of winning a ticket when one day Charlie was walking home and found money on the ground. He was so hungry he immediately bought a candy bar and ate it. He decided to buy one more piece of candy and give the rest of the change to his mother. Charlie opened the second candy bar and there was the last Golden Ticket.

 Mayhem ensued in the store after the discovery was made public. Charlie ran home to protect his ticket and tell his family. Grandpa Joe was so delighted about the news he jumped out of his bed for the first time in twenty years. Mr. Bucket insisted that Grandpa Joe should be the one to escort Charlie to the chocolate factory the next day. When Charlie and Grandpa Joe arrived in line with the other winners at the gates of the factory, Mr. Wonka greeted them with much enthusiasm while rushing them inside to begin the tour. The tour group is astonished by the amazing machines and inventions in the factory. While they are in the Chocolate Room, Augustus Gloop starts drinking from the river made of chocolate despite Mr. Wonka's protests. Augstus falls in the chocolate and is sucked into a giant pipe. Despite the danger Mr. Wonka insists the Oompa Loompas, tiny people who live in the factory and work for Mr. Wonka, will retrieve him from another room in the factory. Mr. and Mrs. Gloop  leave with several Oompa Loompas. Shortly afterwards a crowd of Oompa Loompas across the river sing a song about Augustus being greedy and criticizing him for his vices.

Mr. Wonka shows the remaining tourists his latest inventions including the Everlasting Gobstoppers, and a gum that will allow you to eat three meals a day. Violet takes a piece of this gum and chews it after Mr. Wonka tells her not to. He warned her that the gum was still in the experimental phase. Violet turns into a giant blueberry as Mr. Wonka anticipated would happen from his earlier test trials. The Oompa Loompas roll Violet out of the Inventing Room and her parents leave with her. Charlie and Grandpa Joe listen to the second Oompa Loompa song chastising Violet and her parents. The leftover winners proceed on the tour and are led to look inside the Nut Sorting Room where factory squirrels separate good and bad walnuts. Veruca wants to own one of the squirrels and is defiant when Mr. Wonka tells Mr. Salt they cannot be purchased. She enters the Nut Sorting Room and tries to take one of the squirrels. The squirrels grab Veruca and test to see if she is a good or bad nut. They identify her as a bad nut and throw her down a garbage chute. Mr. and Mrs. Salt go in the room to get her and get thrown down the chute by the squirrels too. The Oompa Loompas sing a song about Veruca's spoiled behavior.

The last two children take an unorthodox glass elevator to the Television Room where Mr. Wonka is working on his grandest project yet, Chocolate Television. The Oompa Loompas are conducting trials that will send real live chocolate into a television screen. Mike Teavee is so excited about the prospect he decides to send himself through the television. Mr. Wonka claims it is a deadly transaction, but Mike runs and does it anyway. Mrs. Teavee is alarmed and frightened when her son takes several minutes to appear on the screen and is now tiny enough to fit in her hand. Mr. Wonka orders the Oompa Loompas to take them to a room where Mike can be stretched back to a normal size. A group of Oompa Loompas sing about the negative affects of television on children.

Grandpa Joe and Charlie are now the only ones left on the tour. Mr. Wonka reveals to Charlie on the glass elevator that he has won the chocolate factory. Mr. Wonka intends to train Charlie to be able to manage the factory after him. Charlie is in disbelief, but he is extremely happy. Mr. Wonka sends the glass elevator out of the factory and it flies over the Bucket's tiny house to pick up the other grandparents and Mr. and Mrs. Bucket. They are all skeptical and wary of the news, but Grandpa Joe and Charlie manage to get them on the elevator where they will go to the chocolate factory to live for the rest of their days.

No comments:

Post a Comment