Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
Analysis: Writing Style
Playful, Richly Descriptive, Exclamatory, Emphatic (and Illustrated!)
We do declare! The sheer number! Of exclamation points! Is enough! To convince us! The writing style! Is exclamatory! The characters aren't the only one's doing the exclaiming. The narrator, too, uses his fair share of exclamation points, and it's that excited style that gets us to have so much fun reading the story.
So that begs the question: how much fun do you think Dahl had writing this book? We're betting a lot. Coming up with the kooky, curiously appropriate names for all his characters would be hours of fun alone. And when you add all the puns, the imaginative treats, and the wondrous rooms of the chocolate factory to that, writing this book must have been a blast.
Here's another thing that makes this book so fun: In practically every chapter, we get a new, delectable description. Take, for example, the moment Grandpa Joe learns his beloved grandson has found a Golden Ticket:
Then very slowly, with a slow and marvelous grin spreading all over his face, Grandpa Joe lifted his head and looked straight at Charlie. The color was rushing to his cheeks, and his eyes were wide open, shining with joy, and in the center of each eye, right in the very center, in the black pupil, a little spark of wild excitement was slowly dancing. Then the old man took a deep breath, and suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, an explosion seemed to take place inside him. (12.9)
Don't you just feel like you're there? We learn every single thing that Grandpa Joe is feeling in that moment, right down to the spark of wild excitement in his pupil.
Let's get back to those exclamation points for moment. They show excitement, of course, but they also show emphasis, which is something our Dahl loves to do. But he uses another method to show emphasis, as well, and that's italics. He is forever italicizing things, which gives the book a chatty feel, almost as if he's gesturing while he writes. In Chapter 1, when he says, "And these two very old people are the father and mother of Mrs. Bucket" (1.2), we can almost see him pointing to the illustration. That conversational, emphatic style makes the book even more engaging than it already is.
We don't know about you, but we think the unsung heroes of this book are the illustrations. The most common version of the book out today has drawings by a famous British illustrator, Quentin Blake, although earlier versions of the book had a different illustrator. In fact, the earliest versions had pictures drawn of the original Oompa-Loompas, but these were of course removed when Dahl changed their backstory after being accused of racism. Are you a fan of the illustrations, too? How would you have drawn Charlie and Mr. Wonka?