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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl

Chapters 17 and 18

Chapters 15 and 16

Chapters 19 and 20

Summary

When he sees Augustus drinking from the river, Mr. Wonka pleads with him to stop, saying that his chocolate must remain unsullied by human hands. Mr. and Mrs. Gloop also try to stop Augustus, but he ignores all of them. As he leans farther out into the river—Mr. Gloop warning him not to lean so far, and Mrs. Gloop warning him not to spread his cold to millions of children—he falls in and disappears below the surface. Mrs. Gloop screams for her husband to do something. Mr. Gloop hesitates, as he is wearing his best suit, but finally begins to disrobe. But before he can even remove his jacket, Augustus is sucked under the surface again and becomes wedged in one of the great pipes. Mrs. Gloop screams for help. Mr. Gloop wonders how the pipe can contain his son. Charlie and Grandpa Joe also worry for Augustus. Finally, the pressure builds to a breaking point beneath Augustus and he shoots up the pipe like a rocket and disappears.

Mrs. Gloop demands to know where her son is while Mr. Wonka attempts to keep her calm by explaining that Augustus will be just fine. Mrs. Gloop refuses to believe him, fearing that her son will end up as a marshmallow. Mr. Wonka assures her that Augustus cannot become a marshmallow—after all, the pipe leads to a fudge room. The Gloops grow indignant when they perceive that Mr. Wonka is laughing at them. Mr. Wonka is indeed laughing, but he again assures the Gloops that their son will be fine. He tells them that making Augustus into fudge would not make sense because no one would want to buy it. Mrs. Gloop demands to see her son. Mr. Wonka snaps his fingers and an Oompa-Loompa appears before him. Mr. Wonka instructs the Oompa-Loompa to escort Mr. and Mrs. Gloop to the fudge room. The Oompa-Loompa laughs out loud in response to the instructions. After reprimanding the Oompa-Loompa, Mr. Wonka tells him to hurry and find Augustus before he falls into the boiler. Much to Mrs. Gloop’s chagrin, Mr. Wonka jokes about how inedible the fudge would be. After hastily reminding Mrs. Gloop that he is only joking, he bids farewell to the Gloops as the Oompa-Loompa whisks them away. As the Gloops exit, the other Oompa-Loompas on the far side of the river begin dancing, beating drums, and singing a song about Augustus’s greed and how they will change him for the better without harming him. Mr. Wonka reminds the remaining audience that the Oompa-Loompas love to sing, but that the subjects of their songs are always nonsense and not to be believed. Charlie asks Grandpa Joe if the songs are really nonsense and Grandpa Joe says that they must be.

Mr. Wonka ushers the crowd along at a brisk pace while reassuring everyone that Augustus will be fine. Suddenly a large, pinkViking-style boat appears on the river, rowed by a hundred Oompa-Loompas. Upon seeing the children and their parents, the Oompa-Loompas burst into laughter. Violet demands to know why they are laughing, but Mr. Wonka tells her to disregard the Oompa-Loompas’ laughter, as they think everything is a joke. Everyone boards the boat, and the Oompa-Loompas begin rowing downstream. Mr. Wonka asks Mike Teavee not to lick the boat and Veruca Salt tells her father that she wants a boat like Mr. Wonka’s. Overhearing Veruca’s demand, Grandpa Joe whispers to Charlie that Veruca needs a good swift kick. Charlie clings to his grandfather and wonders how there could be anything more astonishing than what he has already witnessed. Mr. Wonka interrupts Charlie and Grandpa Joe’s conversation by handing each a mug overflowing with chocolate from his river. He tells them both to drink and asks why they look so frail. Grandpa Joe tells Mr. Wonka that there is not much to eat in their household. After drinking the chocolate, Charlie tells Mr. Wonka how wonderful it is. Mr. Wonka replies that his secret is mixing the chocolate by waterfall.

Mr. Wonka urges the Oompa-Loompas to row faster as the boat enters a dark tunnel. This causes screams from the group. Violet worries that the Oompa-Loompas cannot possibly see where they are going, which Mr. Wonka confirms. All of the parents respond in chorus that Mr. Wonka is crazy. Only Grandpa Joe disagrees. Mr. Wonka calls for light and the tunnel instantly lights up, showing the passengers a spotless tube and the river moving below them at a frightful pace. He tells the Oompa-Loompas to row even faster. Mr. Wonka, enjoying himself tremendously, glances around to observe his guests. Grandpa Joe notices numbered doors in the tunnel with strange signs such as “ALL CREAMS INCLUDING HAIR CREAM.” Mike Teavee logically asserts that Mr. Wonka does not use hair cream. Mr. Wonka ignores him. Veruca and Violet ask about similarly nonsensical signs such as “WHIPS FOR WHIPPING CREAM” and “BEANS INCLUDING HAS BEANS.” Mr. Wonka explains to Violet that she is a “has bean” and that there is no time for arguing. He calls for the boat to halt.

Analysis

Dahl begins this section by comparing Augustus Gloop to a dog, which proves to be a fair comparison. He listens to his stomach above all else and seems to have no control over his animalistic urges. He does not even hear people speaking to him while he drinks from the chocolate river. Like a dog, he might eat himself to death if given the chance. Mr. Wonka is extremely nonchalant in reaction to Augustus’s disappearance: he too seems to treat Augustus like an animal. By telling Mrs. Gloop that Augustus will be fine, Mr. Wonka implies that Augustus will be better off after his journey up the pipe and the lesson it will teach him. The pain and humiliation will cleanse Augustus of his disgusting habits, and he will leave the factory a better person. Though this is obvious to Mr. Wonka, it is less so to the Gloops, who are incensed at Mr. Wonka’s unfeeling reaction.

Dahl continues to employ nonsensical themes in this section, as when he says Augustus cannot possibly be made into a marshmallow because the pipe in which he is trapped does not lead to the marshmallow room. This does nothing to comfort the Gloops, but Mr. Wonka is not interested in comforting them. Rather, he wants to teach them a lesson. Afterward, Mr. Wonka tries to reassure the Gloops that he would never make their son into fudge because it would not taste good and no one would want to buy it. Although readers can see humor in the response, Mr. Wonka’s seeming coldness enrages the Gloops. This style of narration allows young readers of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to feel wiser than some of the characters. The mystique of Mr. Wonka is also elaborated on in these chapters. Echoing the biblical pronouncement in the book of Genesis, Mr. Wonka calls for light and it appears. Indeed, Mr. Wonka is the supreme being of his own world, and he has the power to submit his guests to whatever he chooses.

These chapters contain the first advancing of a moral through the songs of the Oompa-Loompas. Their first song discusses how to change a child who is nasty and brutish into one who is lovable. They say that greed is a terrible character trait and that parents must guard against it. They suggest that by putting a child through a seemingly torturous cleansing process, the child will come out better for the experience. Mr. Wonka verifies this when he tells everyone not to worry about Augustus. Throughout the story, Mr. Wonka maintains everything is bound to come out in the wash. Here, Dahl is espousing the type of cleaning or purification that the Oompa-Loompa song suggests, and although the characters reappear at the end of the book, some critics have been outraged by the parallels of this justified punishment with the Holocaust and the Final Solution. However, these complementary plot points may also just emphasize that people cannot give up on bad children. Instead it is incumbent upon their caregivers to help their children overcome their demons, even if the process is painful for all involved.

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