Study Guide

The Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl

The Oompa-Loompas

Shmoompa-Loompas. Oops, we mean Oompa-Loompas. The name itself is mysterious, and in fact the Oompa-Loompas are quite the mystery themselves. These little guys and gals don't say much, but they sing, and quite well. In fact, despite the fact that they don't talk a lot, we can be sure they're pretty smart, because their songs are witty, rhyming, and made up on the spot. Impressive stuff.

So what do we know about them? Let's see. Of course they're small – even smaller than Charlie. According to our narrator, "they were no larger than medium-sized dolls." (15.30). We also know what they look like: they've got white teeth, rosy-white skin, and long golden-brown hair. Plus they're also from a far-away land (although, then again, so is Veruca).

Leaving Loompaland

We find out from Mr. Wonka that the Oompa-Loompas were originally from a place called Loompaland. But they were being attacked by various beasts, and were forced to survive on gross food, even though, "The one food they longed for more than any other was the cacao bean." (16.6). As it turns out, that's exactly what chocolate is made of.

So Mr. Wonka, visiting Loompaland, tells the Oompa-Loompas that they can come live at his factory and eat all the cacao beans they want, if they'll agree to work for him. Sold.

Poets (Who Totally Know it)

Mr. Wonka goes on to tell us:

"They're wonderful workers. They all speak English now. They love dancing and music. They are always making up songs. […] I must warn you, though, that they are rather mischievous. They like jokes." (16.10)

And that certainly proves true. Each time one of the children is hurt by Mr. Wonka's wacky inventions, the Oompa-Loompas sing a mischievous song. But those songs often have lessons, too:

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

These Oompa-Loompas are wiser than they seem. They know Mike Teavee wouldn't have been shrunk if he had just turned off the TV every once in a while and read a book instead.

So while the Oompa-Loompas are mischievous, and are small like children, they also know when to behave. So we can't help but agree when they tell their audience that it "serves [Mike Teavee] right" to have been shrunk by the television. (27.77)

Most importantly, they're hard workers. Willy Wonka's chocolate factory just wouldn't be what it is today without the help of the Oompa-Loompas. And therefore our story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wouldn't be the awesome story that it is without them, either.

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