Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chapters 15 and 16
Mr. Wonka explains that the chocolate room is the nerve center of his factory. It is a beautiful room—Mr. Wonka does not care for ugliness. Before entering he warns the children to remain calm inside. The group enters and immediately encounters an amazing sight: a green valley cut by a brown river, which includes a waterfall. At the base of the waterfall, giant transparent pipes flow into the river from the ceiling of the room. The pipes suck the bubbling liquid out of the river and carry it away. All around the river various trees and flowers grow. Mr. Wonka then explains with great excitement that the river is made entirely of chocolate. Everyone is too awestruck to speak.
Mr. Wonka explains that the waterfall is the most important part of his chocolate-making process. He believes that churning chocolate by waterfall is the only correct way to do the job. He then explains that everything around the group is edible and composed of the finest quality chocolate, including the grass beneath their feet. Everyone then samples the grass. Charlie and Grandpa Joe tell each other how wonderful the grass tastes, while Augustus scoops a handful and Violet puts her gum behind her ear. Then Veruca screams in reaction to seeing little people on the other side of the river. Everyone else finally sees the little people. They are confused by the little people and begin chattering amongst themselves. The little people look at the children across the river and then begin to laugh hysterically. Charlie does not believe that they are real people, but Mr. Wonka assures him that the Oompa-Loompas are perfectly real.
Mr. Wonka explains that the Oompa-Loompas are imported directly from Loompaland, which Mrs. Salt (a geography teacher) claims does not exist. Mr. Wonka assures her that there is such a place and that it is a terrible place for Oompa-Loompas to live. The jungles are infested with beasts that preyed on the Ooompa-Loompas, forcing them to live in trees. When Mr. Wonka found them they were near starvation, surviving on insects and longing for their favorite food: cacao beans. Coincidentally, the cacao bean is the key ingredient in chocolate. After he learned that the Oompa-Loompas love cacao beans, Mr. Wonka offered them a chance to work at his factory and eat all the cacao beans they wanted. The leader of the tribe quickly accepted the deal and Mr. Wonka smuggled all of the Oompa-Loompas to his factory.
Mr. Wonka goes on to describe the Oompa-Loompas as great workers. They love to sing and dance, and he points out that the group will probably hear them singing before the tour is finished. Mr. Wonka also says that the Oompa-Loompas are mischievous and that their desired clothing is leaves and deerskins, which is what they wore in Loompaland. Veruca interrupts by screaming at her father to get her an Oompa-Loompa. Mr. Salt asks that she be patient. Mrs. Gloop interrupts Mr. Salt to warn Augustus not to go too close to the river, where she sees him kneeling and scooping handfuls of hot chocolate into his mouth.
The author continues to foreshadow in these chapters. Mr. Wonka warns the children to be careful and not lose their heads. It becomes clear that Augustus will not heed his warning. The size of the pipes emerging from the river also foreshadow Augustus’ downfall: they are described as enormous—just as Augustus is described earlier. When he is later unable to fit through one, this will serve as a further testimony to his corpulence and greed and his parents incompetence. Finally Mr. Wonka again foreshadows the children’s demise when he repeatedly mentions his distaste for things he deems ugly. This foreshadows his distaste for each of the children, besides Charlie, because of their ugly character traits.
Dahl’s use of verbs in these chapters advances the nonsensical portion of the plot. He describes the group’s reaction to hearing that the river is chocolate with the verbs flabbergasted, staggered, dumbfounded, bewildered, dazzled, and bowled over. Although any one of these verbs individually would have appropriately conveyed the reaction to this unbelievable sight, Dahl purposefully uses a litany of similar verbs to excite the reader and increase the speed of the book. Such use of language underscores Mr. Wonka’s frantic nature as well as the sense of adventure that Charlie feels. Dahl also employs made-up words, like eatable, to appeal to a young reader’s senses.
Mr. Wonka’s relationship with the Oompa-Loompas has aroused criticism of Dahl. Although Mr. Wonka can be seen as the paternalistic factory owner, who literally saves the lives of his workers, it is unclear whether his workers desire another form of payment. Neither is it known whether the Oompa-Loompas would choose to do another form of work if they were not indentured to Mr. Wonka. The Oompa-Loompas have only limited interaction with Mr. Wonka, and their feelings are never really explored within the text.
Finally, in these chapters, Dahl employs a deft rhetorical trick to tell the reader what to expect. The omniscient voice tells the reader that he or she could probably have guessed that Augustus would greedily drink hot chocolate from the river without concern for his safety. By writing in this way, Dahl tells his readers that the characters are predictable. This opens the door for the young reader to jump to make predictions—an important and intellectual reading skill—about the other children. Dahl also seems to be letting his readers in on a secret, which makes them all the more willing to hear and trust his words.
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