51 pages 1 hour read

Roald Dahl

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1964

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Summary and Study Guide


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) is a fantasy children’s novel by renowned British author Roald Dahl, a man known for his strange and wondrous imagination. The story follows Charlie Bucket, who wins a tour in a chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Mr. Willy Wonka. In the years following publication, the novel became a classic and spawned two major film adaptations, one starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka (1971) and a remake starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka (2005).

The novel suggests that Greed and Gluttony will be Punished, while Kindness and Patience will be Rewarded. Protagonist Charlie Bucket turns out to be the hero of the story, a child with absolutely nothing who is nonetheless kind. Everyone in his family cares for each other, and they overcome their suffering with the power of love. The other child characters come from families with more means, but this has not made them more kind or loving.

 As each child displays his or her character flaws, they are dealt unusual punishments intended to make them better people. Charlie is rewarded for his humility by getting to own and live in Mr. Wonka’s magical factory.

Plot Summary

As Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opens, eccentric chocolatier Mr. Willy Wonka has decided to open his factory to five children and their parents after years of keeping it closed. He places five Golden Tickets inside the wrappers of different chocolate bars and declares that whoever finds one will be able to enter the factory.

Augustus Gloop, a greedy, heavyset child, wins the first ticket, and his town throws a parade in his honor. Veruca Salt is the second winner; her wealthy father purchased over a thousand chocolate bars and charged his factory workers with finding a ticket among them. Violet Beauregarde, the world record-holder for gum-chewing, wins the third ticket, and Mike Teavee, a child obsessed with television, wins the fourth ticket.

The world frantically searches for the fifth ticket. Charlie Bucket, a poor but virtuous boy who lives in a house with his parents and all four of his grandparents, is lucky enough to find the fifth ticket. Charlie receives one chocolate bar every year for his birthday; neither this bar nor Grandpa Joe’s second bar contains the Golden Ticket, but by a stroke of luck, he finds a crumpled dollar in the snow. He buys himself two more bars—the fourth bar revealing the fifth and final Golden Ticket.

The next day, the five Golden Ticket winners wait to meet Mr. Willy Wonka and enter the factory. Neither Charlie’s father nor mother can accompany him, but his eldest grandparent, Grandpa Joe, springs out of bed for the first time in decades—the excitement renewing his energy.

The sights and sounds of the factory are incredible. The children and their parents meet the Oompa-Loompas, a race of small people who work in the factory, dedicated to Mr. Wonka for having saved them. Charlie and his grandfather are respectful and kind, but the other four children fall victim to their own character flaws.

The first child to go is Augustus. He attempts to drink from the hot chocolate river, but he falls in and is sucked into the river’s pipes. Violet chews a piece of experimental gum, grows into a giant blueberry and is rolled out of the factory by the Oompa-Loompas. Veruca is deemed “bad” and thrown into the trash by the squirrels who judge the nuts added to candy. Mike decides to be the first human sent through the TV in Mr. Wonka’s chocolate-by-television delivery system, and when he shrinks, he must stretched by the gum-stretching machine.

Mr. Wonka remains dispassionate about each child’s fate, alienating the parents. He firmly believes that everything will work out in the end. When only Charlie remains, Willy Wonka surprises him by saying he’s won the contest. The visit has been a secret contest to determine the new owner of the chocolate factory. Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Mr. Wonka fly in a glass elevator until it crashes through the rooves of the factory and into Charlie’s house, where they collect the rest of the Bucket Family.

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