Study Guide

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Poverty

By Roald Dahl


Chapter 1

There wasn't any question of them being able to buy a better house – or even one more bed to sleep in. They were far too poor for that (1.11)

Our narrator is sure to tell it like it is. From the get-go, it's clear that the Buckets are broke, which makes the ending of the story, when we finally get to it, all the more wonderful.

The house wasn't nearly large enough for so many people, and life was extremely uncomfortable for them all (1.8)

Uncomfortable ain't the word for it. Four grandparents in one bed! And only two rooms for six people. Sounds just plain unbearable.

They all looked forward to Sundays because then, although they had exactly the same, everyone was allowed a second helping" (1.12)

A second helping of boiled cabbage doesn't sound like much of a treat. So it's pretty amazing that the family members all look forward to it on Sundays. But that's just it. Despite their unfortunate situation, this family manages to make the best of it. We wish we could say the same for the other families we meet later.

Chapter 5
Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina

"The kids who are going to find the Golden Tickets are the ones who can afford to buy bars of chocolate every day. Our Charlie gets only one a year. There isn't a hope." (5.13)

Well gee, Grandpa George, that's a pretty sad outlook. Of course we find out later, this turns out to be mostly true – as long as you don't count Charlie's good luck in Chapter 11. But before that stroke of luck, life seems pretty unfair for our Charlie.

Chapter 10

Everything he did now, he did slowly and carefully, to prevent exhaustion. (10.15)

Charlie isn't just hungry anymore. He's <em>starving</em>. Things are getting <em>dire</em>. This isn't just about being poor. This is about having absolutely no money at all. How in the world can Charlie get himself out of this predicament?

The situation became desperate. Breakfast was a single slice of bread for each person now, and lunch was maybe half a boiled potato. (10.7)

Yikes. Things are not going well for Charlie and his family. No more margarine on the bread, no more cabbage with the potatoes. We can't help but worry about what might happen to them, because they don't seem to be headed for greener pastures.

The excitement over the Golden Tickets had long since been forgotten. Nobody in the family gave a thought now to anything except the two vital problems of trying to keep warm and trying to get enough to eat. (10.4)

This might just be the saddest moment in the story. After two tries at getting a golden ticket, the Bucket family has all but given up hope. Think about the problems the other families in the story face. Are they worried about trying to keep warm? Do they have to try hard just to get enough to eat?

There is something about very cold weather that gives one an enormous appetite. Most of us find ourselves beginning to crave rich steaming stews and hot apple pies and all kinds of delicious warming dishes; and because we are all a great deal luckier than we realize, we usually get what we want – or near enough. (10.5)

If only the Gloops and the Salts and the Beauregardes and the Teavees could read this. Their kids might be a little less foolish, a little less greedy, and a little more like Charlie.

Charlie Bucket

<em>A WHOLE fifty pence!
</em>He held it tightly between his shivering fingers, gazing down at it. It meant one thing to him at that moment, only <em>one</em> thing. It meant FOOD. (10.25-26)

The average kid might see a fifty-pence piece and think of toys, trinkets, pinball, or candy. What does Charlie think of? FOOD. Clearly, he's not your typical kid. And clearly he's got bigger problems than the Veruca Salts of the world.

Chapter 13

"Why hasn't he got a coat on in this cold weather?"
"Don't ask me. Maybe he can't afford to buy one."
"Goodness me! He must be freezing!" (13.24-26)

These onlookers seem oddly shocked that Charlie doesn't have enough money to buy a coat, almost as if they haven't heard of anyone being quite so broke. This makes Charlie and his family stick out even more.