Study Guide

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Appearances

By Roald Dahl


By the end of the story, we've never seen a stranger looking group of people in our lives. There's Mr. Wonka, with his crazy outfit, looking down at all the other children, stretched, blue, and covered in trash.

Why does Dahl bother with such physical descriptions? Of course the more he describes, the more we are invited into the book, and the easier we can imagine the world for ourselves. But appearances are also part of a greater lesson. Think of Charlie early on in the book. He's skinny, coatless, and clearly very poor. Passing him on the street, you wouldn't guess he would one day go on to own a chocolate factory. But that's just it – appearances can be deceiving. So while appearances in <em>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</em> may seem like just a quirky way for Dahl to have fun, he's also showing us that things don't always appear as they seem.

Questions About Appearances

  1. Why, exactly, is Mr. Wonka so weird looking? Take a look at his physical description in Chapter 14. What do all those details about his clothing and looks tell us?
  2. How do you imagine Charlie will dress when he owns the factory?         
  3. Appearances tell us a lot about each character. Which character's appearance best fits his or her personality?
  4. What's with these strange-looking Oompa-Loompas? Why do they wear deerskins, and have long hair? And most importantly, why are they so small?

Chew on This

Appearances can be a useful tool; they help the characters in the book size up the people around them.

Willy Wonka is so odd-looking, not because he's odd, but because he hasn't been outside in years. If he had, he wouldn't be so weird.