Charlie Bucket is the protagonist of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he is the embodiment of all that is virtuous. He is deprived of adequate food, a bed, and any privacy. In spite of all this, he never complains, nor does he ever accept charity from his family when it comes at their own expense. Each morning, Charlie musters the strength to walk to school, even though he nearly freezes during the colder months. And each night, he returns home and dutifully spends time with his bedridden grandparents, a chore that he seems to genuinely enjoy.
Charlie’s physical proportions align with his personality: not only is he quite small and undernourished, but also he is meek. He speaks only when he is spoken to. He never asks for more than he is given. He looks forward to the one time a year, on his birthday, when he can indulge in a Wonka chocolate bar, and instead of wolfing it down all at once, he savors it (bite by bite) for many months. Charlie walks past the world-renowned Wonka chocolate factory twice a day, yet this never causes him bitterness or anger. Instead, Charlie simply indulges in the savory smells coming out of the factory and humbly dreams of entering the factory one day. When the golden tickets start turning up in the hands of nasty, greedy children, Charlie never complains about how unfair it is that he will never get to go. Charlie’s strongest criticism of one of the other children comes when he hears that Veruca’s father is using all the workers in his peanut factory to unwrap chocolate bars night and day until his daughter gets a ticket. Charlie’s only comment is that Veruca’s father is not playing quite fair.
Behind Charlie’s meek and virtuous exterior lies an inner strength and courage. He faces the new challenges and mysteries of the factory with the same bravery he employs to overcome the adversity of his everyday life. He finds all of the adventures in the chocolate factory to be wild and stimulating. While other characters cringe at the speed of the boat as it tears down the chocolate river, Charlie demurely embraces it, clutching to Grandpa Joe’s legs for stability and enjoying the ride of his life.