Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
For the main character, Charlie sure doesn't do much. Sure, he's the center of the story at the beginning – and again at the end – but for the meat of the book, he's doesn't get a lot of screen time. Or does he? He doesn't stand out by, say, turning into a giant blueberry, but he is always there, along for the ride. And throughout the story, even when he's not talking, he's showing his true colors.
Small as an Oompa-Loompa (Well, Not Quite That Small)
One of the first things we notice about Charlie is the way he's described by the narrator. From the very beginning, and all throughout the story, he's referred to as "little Charlie Bucket" (1.7). It's hard to tell if "little" refers to his age or size – most likely, it's both. The fact that he's small makes his underdog status stand out even more. Also, it makes him more childlike. He's certainly the smallest of the bunch (surely Augustus is not), and he seems less sure of himself – even when he's marveling at the wonderful sights, he whispers.
Square as the Sweets That Look Round
Charlie is a good kid; he follows the rules, respects his elders, and doesn't cause any trouble. Some may call him square – we call him smart. Remember when Grandpa Joe wants to spend his last sixpence piece on chocolate? Most boys would jump at the opportunity. Charlie, instead, asks "'Are you sure you want to spend your money on that, Grandpa?'" (9.3). In the end, being a goody-two-shoes gets him the entire chocolate factory all to himself. This quality stands out even more in Charlie because of the other kids in the story. All of their faults – particularly their bull-headed disregard for the rules – make his strengths even more impressive.
Quiet as a Parent Who Just Chewed Stickjaw
Our hero isn't much of a talker. Especially compared to the other children (and even the other parents), he's very quiet. He's definitely curious, but he usually keeps his thoughts to himself. Think about the scene in the glass elevator. Mr. Wonka has just told him he's won something, but he doesn't know what; now he and his Grandpa Joe are with Mr. Wonka in an elevator that is about to crash through a ceiling. It's a crazy, crazy moment, and he doesn't say a word. Especially next to chatty Grandpa Joe, this seems nuts. Wouldn't you be asking some questions? But we get not a peep from Charlie. We're not making it up – check it out! (28.8-28).
Sweet as a Chocolate River
When Charlie does talk, he's usually asking questions. He's definitely a curious little bugger, but once he's at the factory, most of his questions are about the other children, making sure they're okay. After the blueberry incident, he asks, worried about the other child, "will Violet Beauregarde ever be all right again or will she always be a blueberry?" (22.2). Considering how annoying Violet is, this seems like a pretty kind question to ask. Then, we see him worried all over again about Veruca in the garbage chute: "But what about the great fiery incinerator?" he asks.
Clearly this is a good boy who cares a lot about others (even when they are not good), and we see that in the way he treats his family, too. Even though it was his birthday present, he offers to share his chocolate bar with all of them, and he goes in to talk with his old grandparents every day after school. A little love can go a long way with grandparents, and Charlie makes their life a lot brighter.
So what, you ask, is the point of making Charlie so darn nice? Well, you can't help but root for the guy. We want what's best for Charlie because we get the feeling he'd want what's best for us. Forget the Golden Ticket – Charlie's all about the Golden Rule.Timeline