Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chapters 3 and 4
Grandpa Joe tells Charlie the story of Mr. Wonka and the Indian Prince Pondicherry. Prince Pondicherry asks Mr. Wonka to build him a palace entirely out of chocolate. Mr.Wonka complies, building a palace with chocolate furniture, chocolate walls, and even hot chocolate running from the taps. When he finally finishes the palace, he cautions the prince to eat it quickly because it will not withstand the heat long. But the prince refuses and says he plans to live in the palace. Just as Mr. Wonka predicts, the palace melts during the next hot day and the prince wakes up in a chocolate swimming pool. At the conclusion of the story, Charlie questions Grandpa Joe about the truth of the story, which Grandpa Joe defends. He then tells Charlie that no one has ever been seen going into or leaving the chocolate factory. Charlie is confused at first, but he quickly realizes Grandpa Joe is right: whenever he walks past the factory, the gates are locked. But he also knows that there is work going on in the factory. When he asks Grandpa Joe who works in the factory, his mother interrupts him, calling him to bed before he can hear about the mystery workers.
The following evening, Grandpa Joe resumes his story. He tells Charlie that Mr. Wonka initially went out of business because his jealous competitors sent spies into the factory to learn all of the Wonka secrets. When the competitors began replicating Mr. Wonka’s amazing candy inventions, Mr. Wonka dismissed all his workers and shut down his factory. But one day the Wonka factory mysteriously came back to life. The townspeople assumed that the factory was reopening, yet they never saw anyone enter or exit the factory, and the factory gates remained chained. Mysteriously, the factory began to produce amazing new candy inventions. Grandpa Joe emphasizes that no one knew then or knows now who is running the factory—the only clues as to the identity of the mystery workers are the very small shadows that are sometimes visible through the large glass windows of the factory. The shadows belong to tiny people, no higher than a man’s knee. Before Charlie can ask Grandpa Joe to explain further, Mr. Bucket interrupts the story with the news that the Wonka chocolate factory will be opening its doors to a few lucky people via the golden tickets.
Dahl uses a heavy dose of foreshadowing in these chapters to build up the character of Mr. Wonka. The story about the Indian prince creates a detailed picture of the chocolatier as a brilliant artist who is capable of creating anything, even an entire palace constructed of nothing but chocolate. The story also shows that Mr. Wonka is someone whose advice should be taken seriously, or else disaster can follow. If Prince Pondicherry had heeded Mr. Wonka’s warning about the finite lifespan of his chocolate palace, he would have been able to enjoy it before it disappeared.
Dahl spends quite a bit of time establishing the link between Charlie and Grandpa Joe. Grandpa Joe is both an adult on whom Charlie can rely and also Charlie’s best friend. In fact, Grandpa Joe is Charlie’s only friend. He entertains Charlie with stories and further earns Charlie’s trust when he assures Charlie that his stories are truthful. Grandpa Joe is the ideal combination of trustworthiness and fun. Most of the other adults in the book are either too removed from childhood to be very positive characters or are negative in their treatment of children.
Dahl also uses a specific writing style in this section in an effort to create a mysterious and fantastic atmosphere that reflects the enigmatic nature of Mr.Wonka’s character. Mr. Wonka had shut down his business because of spies, a word that carries dark and mysterious tones. He mysteriously reopened the factory ten years later without warning. Dahl elaborates on this air of mystery by explaining that no one knows how Mr. Wonka operates his factory because no one ever sees his workers. The only evidence of these workers is their elusive, very small shadows. By relaying these facts from Grandpa Joe to a confused, awestruck Charlie, Dahl enhances the enigma of Mr. Wonka and his chocolate factory.
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