This is a story about a boy named Charlie
who lives with his parents and grandparents in a tiny shack in the outskirts of the city.
The family is poor, as Charlie’s father works as a toothpaste capper, and they eat very
meager meals. In the newspaper, Mr. Willy Wonka, owner of
a successful candy company, has announced a contest in which five golden tickets have
been placed in Wonka candy bars. The five children who find the golden tickets will
be allowed to enter the chocolate factory and will win a lifetime supply of candy. Charlie is excited about the news, but then
realizes that because his family is poor and can’t afford to buy candy, he will most likely
not win. Soon, the newspaper reports that tickets are
being discovered by various children. Charlie tries to win by opening two chocolate bars,
but finds no ticket. Weeks go by and the family has seemingly forgotten
about the golden tickets as Charlie’s father has lost his job. Starving, Charlie walks
outside and finds a dollar on the street. He goes into the candy shop and buys two candy
bars. Miraculously, he finds a golden ticket. Charlie’s family is excited about the discovery
and Grandpa Joe agrees to accompany Charlie to the chocolate factory the next day. The long-locked gates of the Wonka factory
are opened and the five children and their families are greeted by Wonka, a exuberant
fellow with flare and wit. Wonka shows them around his chocolate factory,
introducing them to all of his candy inventions. He also introduces the group to the Oompa-Loompas,
a small race of people who love chocolate and work in the factory. As the tour goes on, however, all of the children
except Charlie misbehave and get taken away. In the end, Wonka explains that the golden
ticket contest was his way to find someone who could inherit the factory. Charlie accepts
and his entire family moves in. First, this story highlights poverty. As readers,
especially young readers, the concept of poverty may not be fully understood. The term “poor”
is often used loosely as in “I’m so poor that I can’t buy that toy”. But this story better
defines the term by portraying a family that better reflects the actual definition of the
word. Charlie’s family is destitute. Living in a
two-room shack, they are getting by with one paycheck to feed seven people, eating bread
and cabbage stew for each meal. More importantly, though, destitution does
not come to define Charlie. Yes, it limits him from buying a large amount of candy bars,
but he still is a smart and hardworking individual with good character. In contrast, there are the other golden ticket
winners. Collectively, the children represent the different types of misbehavior that children
often engage in. There is the overeater, spoiled brat, gum-chewing competitive kid, and TV
watcher. Each of these characters are over-exaggerated to a satirical level in hopes that children
can understand that these behaviors are unacceptable. But the children aren’t the only ones responsible
for their bad behavior. It’s the parents. Wonka invites two parents to accompany each
golden ticket winner not just for supervisory reasons, but so that we can see where these
children learned their bad behavior. They had to learn it from somewhere and these parents
are enablers, doing nothing to stop it. And so even though the contents of this story
may be for children, there is a sprinkle of meaning in it for adults.