Goodreads: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Series: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory #1
Willy Wonda’s marvelous chocolate factory has been closed for years–not even workers ever come in or ever go out. Then Mr. Wonka announces that he has hidden five golden tickets in chocolate bars around the world and five lucky children (with an adult or two to keep them in line) will be invited for a tour. Charlie Bucket dreams of seeing the chocolate factory. Why, it’s located in the town in which he lives! But the Buckets have no money for chocolate bars. Can Charlie’s dream really come true?
Roald Dahl writes with a certain macabre humor that authors seem to believe appeals to children–the characters in this tale variously find themselves sent to be chopped into fudge, thrown down the garbage chute toward the incinerator, and swelled with juice to the size of a giant blueberry before and then placed in the juice presser. Of course, Dahl shows none of this happening, merely has Mr. Wonka relate that it will, but even as a child I was mildly horrified by it all. Now I am horrified more by Mr. Wonka’s callous delight in giving children what he perceives as their rightful comeuppance.
I think Dahl’s stories resonate with adults as well as children because we all do want to see the heroes receive their reward and the villians or just the nasty spoiled characters learn their lesson. However, if Violet Beauregard chews a lot of gum, is that really Mr. Wonka’s concern? Chewing gum is not a vice, even if Mr. Wonka finds it disgusting (though, as one character points out, Wonka himself makes and sells gum, so his attitude seems somewhat hypocritical). And even if it is, should Mr. Wonka really have laid what appears to be a series of very clever traps to get these children to–seemingly–punish themselves. He’s read the newspapers. He knows all about the children. He knows exactly what he’s doing when he waves an untested piece of gum before Violet’s nose.
Mr. Wonka’s sadistic nature aside, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is really an amusing, magical sort of book. Who can forget the chocolate waterfall, lickable wallpaper, luminous lollipops, or the three-course meal gum? Visiting Mr. Wonka’s factory is, I suspect, not the dream of every child, but everybody. Even if a person who does not like candy would be flabbergasted by the way Mr. Wonka defies nature.
The real magic in this story, though, is that Charlie Bucket and his family achieve an escape from poverty simply because Charlie is a good person. We all want to believe in the old Cinderella tale, to think that change is possible. I am always sorry that no one helped the Buckets, but I always rejoice that, in the end, one good act proves enough to set them free. Adults, as well as children, need this sort of fairy tale, the kind that gives hope.