Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Sure, the book is quite funny itself, but often when a character laughs in the story, we have trouble understanding why. Take the Oompa-Loompas, for example. According to Mr. Wonka, "They're always laughing! They think everything's a colossal joke!" But what's the joke? Unfortunately, we never find out.
What's So Funny?
Consider the ending of Chapter 9. After Grandpa Joe gives Charlie his savings to go buy another chocolate bar so he'll have one more chance at a Golden Ticket, they open the bar only to come up empty. And what's their reaction? Let's take a look:
They both stared at what lay underneath. It was a bar of chocolate – nothing more.
All at once, they both saw the funny side of the whole thing, and they burst into peals of laughter.
While we admire their positive attitude, we find it a bit hard to figure what's so funny about this situation. They just blew Grandpa Joe's savings on a chocolate bar and didn't win the Golden Ticket. It's actually quite depressing when you think about it.
The Best Medicine
But you know what? They're happy. In fact, we've noticed that the people who laugh in this book seem much happier than those who don't. Just think of all those unhappy parents – the Salts and the Beauregardes and the Gloops and the Teavees. And now consider the fact that Grandpa Joe, Charlie, Mr. Wonka, and the Oompa-Loompas are quick to laugh. We can only guess that they're simply having fun. Good for them.
We have one favorite moment of laughter, and we think you might like it, too. It's the ending. In the last line of the book, as he tells his family they'll have plenty to eat, Charlie chuckles (30.49). He's happy, and so are we. And this time, we know exactly why he's laughing.