Mr. Willy Wonka, the eccentric owner of the greatest chocolate factory in the world, has decided to open the doors of his factory to five lucky children and their parents. In order to choose who will enter the factory, Mr. Wonka devises a plan to hide five golden tickets beneath the wrappers of his famous chocolate bars. The search for the five golden tickets is fast and furious. Augustus Gloop, a corpulent child whose only hobby is eating, unwraps the first ticket, for which his town throws him a parade. Veruca Salt, an insufferable brat, receives the next ticket from her father, who had employed his entire factory of peanut shellers to unwrap chocolate bars until they found a ticket. Violet Beauregarde discovers the third ticket while taking a break from setting a world record in gum chewing. The fourth ticket goes to Mike Teavee, who, as his name implies, cares only about television.
Charlie Bucket, the unsuspecting hero of the book, defies all odds in claiming the fifth and final ticket. A poor but virtuous boy, Charlie lives in a tiny house with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bucket, and all four of his grandparents. His grandparents share the only bed in the house, located in the only bedroom, and Charlie and his parents sleep on mattresses on the floor. Charlie gets three sparse meals a day, which is hardly enough to nourish a growing boy, As a result, he is almost sickly thin. Once a year, on his birthday, Charlie gets one bar of Wonka chocolate, which he savors over many months. The Bucket family’s circumstances become all the more dire when Mr. Bucket loses his job. But a tremendous stroke of luck befalls Charlie when he spots a raggedy dollar bill buried in the snow. He decides to use a little of the money to buy himself some chocolate before turning the rest over to his mother. After inhaling the first bar of chocolate, Charlie decides to buy just one more and within the wrapping finds the fifth golden ticket. He is not a moment too soon: the next day is the date Mr. Wonka has set for his guests to enter the factory.
Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bucket can accompany Charlie to the factory. Mr. Bucket must search for work to put food on the table and Mrs. Bucket must care for the invalided grandparents. Magically, Charlie’s oldest and most beloved grandparent, Grandpa Joe, springs out of bed for the first time in decades. Charlie’s lucky find has transformed him into an energetic and almost childlike being. Grandpa Joe and Charlie set out on their adventure.
In the factory, Charlie and Grandpa Joe marvel at the unbelievable sights, sounds, and especially smells of the factory. Whereas they are grateful toward and respectful of Mr. Wonka and his factory, the other four children succumb to their own character flaws. Accordingly, they are ejected from the factory in mysterious and painful fashions. Augustus Gloop falls into the hot chocolate river—while attempting to drink it—and is sucked up by one of the many pipes. Veruca Salt is determined to be a “bad nut” by nut-judging squirrels who throw her out with the trash. Violet Beauregarde impetuously grabs an experimental piece of gum and chews herself into a giant blueberry. She is consequently removed from the factory. With the hope of being on his beloved television, Mike Teavee shrinks himself, and his father has to carry him out in his breast pocket. During each child’s fiasco, Mr. Wonka alienates the parents with his nonchalant reaction to the child’s seeming demise. He remains steadfast in his belief that everything will work out in the end.
After each child’s trial, the Oompa-Loompas beat drums and sing a moralizing song about the downfalls of greedy, spoiled children. When only Charlie remains, Willy Wonka turns to him and congratulates him for winning. The entire day has been another contest, the prize for which is the entire chocolate factory, which Charlie has just won. Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Mr. Wonka enter the great glass elevator, which explodes through the roof of the factory and crashes down through the roof of Charlie’s house, where they collect the rest of the Bucket family.