Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chapters 19 and 20
The Oompa-Loompas stop the boat in front of a red door called the inventing room and Mr. Wonka leans over to unlock it. Mr. Wonka explains that the inventing room is the most important room in the factory and that all the evil chocolate makers would give anything to get inside. Then he warns his guests to keep their hands off of everything. The children agree. Mr. Wonka tells them that no one besides himself has ever stepped inside the room. He then reminds them again to keep their hands off. Charlie’s impression of the room is that of a witch’s kitchen with cauldrons bubbling, steam and pipes everywhere, and endless delicious smells.
Mr. Wonka grows even more excited and animated in this room. He runs from one pot to another, turning dials, dipping and tasting, and watching a final machine drop green balls out one a time. Mr. Wonka explains that the green balls are a new invention—everlasting Gobstoppers—designed for poor children: they can be sucked indefinitely and never grow smaller. Violet thinks this sounds like gum, but Mr. Wonka tells her that if she were to bite one it would break her jaw. He also explains that an Oompa-Loompa next door is testing a gobstopper and has been sucking it for the last year without it getting any smaller. Then Mr. Wonka bounds over to another pan where he is cooking hair toffee, which he explains will grow hair on your head, including a beard and mustache. Veruca wonders who would want a beard and mustache and Mr. Wonka counters that a beard would be fitting for Veruca. He also explains that the mixture is not quite right. It grows too much hair, as evidenced by an Oompa-Loompa who now needs a lawnmower to cut his beard. Mr. Wonka assures everyone that he will get the mixture right and keep little boys and girls from going bald, to which Mike Teavee responds that little boys and girls do not go bald. His point goes unacknowledged.
Mr. Wonka leads the group over to another machine. This machine has countless glass tubes spilling into a large glass tub. When Mr. Wonka presses the buttons, the machine begins to shake and steam, and the glass tubes shoot streams of various colors into the tub. When the tub fills, Mr. Wonka presses another button and the tub begins mixing the liquids together, changing colors continually and finally settling on blue. Mr. Wonka tells everyone to watch as the machine stops whirring and begins sucking the liquid back into its belly. Moments later, a little drawer pops out of the machine and inside it is a small, flat object that looks like cardboard. Mike Teavee is unimpressed. Mr. Wonka is incredulous and asks Mike if he knows what the machine has created. Violet interrupts the ensuing silence by saying that it is gum. Mr. Wonka tells her that she is correct and explains that it is the most amazing gum ever created.
These chapters perpetuate the theme that good things come in small packages. The gum-inventing machine packs a tremendous amount of ingredients into a very small package. Though the gum resembles a boring piece of cardboard, it is an incredibly complex creation that ought to be judged on more than just its appearance. This line of thinking can also apply to Charlie. He may be small and meek, but Mr. Wonka senses that he is capable of greatness. Mr. Wonka’s fabulous candy creation—Gobstoppers—further distances Charlie from the other children. This candy is created for kids just like Charlie, who would appreciate a piece of candy that lasts a lifetime. If a child like Violet ever tried to bite into the gobstopper, it would crack her jaw. But someone who could not appreciate such things would suffer the consequences. This scene foreshadows Charlie’s eventual ownership of the factory.
Nonsense continues to abound in these chapters. Mr. Wonka describes his hair toffee, and he proudly proclaims that little boys and girls will never need to worry about baldness again. Readers can quickly understand the silliness in this comment, which Mike Teavee points out, but Mr. Wonka dismisses. Furthermore, Mr.Wonka takes the opportunity to make fun of Veruca when she says she is not interested in hair toffee, telling her she would look good with a beard. Mr. Wonka has alienated each of the other children for their rudeness, but he never mistreats Charlie.
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