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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Theme of Poverty

There's no doubt about it: our protagonist is poor. Dahl never lets us forget it. Why make him so poor? Why not make Charlie just be an average kid in suburbia, with a dog and a wagon and a backyard? Well, we think it might be because Charlie's relative poverty at the beginning of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory makes the riches he is given at the end all the more sweet. His poverty makes us sympathize with him, especially when you consider the fact that so many others seem so rich. And that sympathy builds when we learn that he's really a good kid, too. So when Charlie is the last kid standing at the end of the tour, we're elated. Plus, don't forget: Charlie hasn't won any money. What he's won is a home, and an endless supply of food for him and his family, which makes him the richest kid of all.

Questions About Poverty

  1. Do you really think that Charlie and his family will be better off at the chocolate factory?
  2. Why doesn't Mrs. Bucket have a job? Are there any clues in the story that can help us figure that one out?         
  3. At times, like when the bystanders are shocked that Charlie doesn't have a coat, it almost seems like everyone else has money. Where are all the other poor people?
  4. Who do you think the family's poverty is harder on: Charlie, his parents, or the grandparents?

Chew on This

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

Dahl shouldn't have made Charlie so poor: it makes an otherwise happy book seem way too sad.

Charlie's poverty is the only reason we root for him. We just feel bad for the guy.

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