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Themes

There's no doubt about it: the stars of <em>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</em> are children. But we think Grandpa Joe deserves at least a supporting actor nomination. What would Charlie's tour of the factory be without Grandpa Joe's companionship? Part of why we love that these two are at the center of the story is that they manage to be quite good friends, despite their age gap. Young-at-heart Grandpa Joe brings out the child in our wise-beyond-his-years Charlie. They bring out the best in each other in a way the other children and their parents never could. Perhaps those other parents aren't old enough to understand that it's important to hang on to your youthful spirit. And perhaps those other children are still too young to have developed the curious wisdom that Charlie has. Either way, Dahl shows us that no matter your age, it's important to keep a cool head and a young heart.

Questions About Old Age

  1. What was Willy Wonka like as a kid? What do you think Charlie will be like as an old man?
  2. Why aren't the other grandparents more like Grandpa Joe?         
  3. Just how old is Willy Wonka? He says he's an old man, but he sure doesn't act like it.           
  4. In the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, what do you think it means to grow old, or to grow up?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is meant to show just how awful growing old is. Dahl thinks we might as well all stay young forever.

In this book, growing older does not necessarily mean growing wiser. Many of the adult parents, for example, are just as foolish as their foolish children.

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