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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 10 : The Family Begins to Starve | Summary



The weather turns cold, and after a big storm, the Bucket house is four feet deep in snow. The snow is followed by days of freezing winds. Everyone in the family is hungry, Charlie most of all. Then Mr. Bucket loses his job when the toothpaste factory closes. He begins shoveling snow, but the pennies he makes don't come close to providing for his family.

"Slowly but surely, everybody in the house began to starve." Charlie gets thinner and thinner. He makes little changes so as to save his strength, resting inside during recess and walking home from school more slowly. On one particularly wretched afternoon Charlie is struggling home when he suddenly spots a dollar bill in the gutter, half buried under snow. Carefully Charlie pulls it out. It is a dollar!

Charlie can think of only one thing: food. He makes his way toward the nearest store, planning to buy himself a candy bar and then take the change home to his mother.


Dahl piles on the sadness here, and Charlie's suffering might seem intolerable to young readers if the chapter didn't end on such an exciting note. Gone is any suggestion that this is a fairy tale. Charlie and his family are genuinely starving. One line is especially hard to read; it seems to come from somewhere outside the story, somewhere in Dahl's experience. "With that curious wisdom that seems to come so often to small children in times of hardship," Charlie begins to move less and less.

This kind of extreme fatigue is characteristic of starving people. The line brings home Charlie's extreme suffering. Fortunately, his luck is just about to turn.

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