Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 17 : Augustus Gloop Goes up the Pipe | Summary

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Summary

When Mr. Wonka realizes what Augustus is doing, he begs him to stop. Augustus pays no attention. He is now lying full-length on the ground, "deaf to everything but the call of his enormous stomach." He leans so far over the riverbank that he topples in. Mr. Gloop prepares to dive into the river, but Augustus is sucked into the mouth of one of the glass pipes before his father can do anything.

Augustus starts to shoot up the pipe, but he gets stuck. The melted chocolate builds up behind him until the pressure dislodges the boy. Up again he goes, and disappears from view.

A giggling Mr. Wonka tries to reassure Mrs. Gloop. "He'll come out of it just fine, you wait and see." He summons an Oompa-Loompa and asks him to take Mr. and Mrs. Gloop to the Fudge Room, where that particular pipe leads. "Take a long stick and start poking around inside the big chocolate-mixing barrel."

As the Gloops are hurried away, the five Oompa-Loompas on the far side of the river begin dancing and beating tiny drums. Then they begin to sing a long song that begins "Augustus Gloop! Augustus Gloop! The great big greedy nincompoop ..."

Analysis

Jokes about someone's appearance don't seem as funny as they did in the early 1960s. The fact that Augustus Gloop causes his own misfortune can't quite obscure the reader's unease about laughing at a fat boy. Apart from that, though, this is a very funny chapter. Notice Mr. Gloop's remarks in particular—he's a good foil for his screaming wife.

This is the first of the Oompa-Loompa songs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and perhaps the best. Its mordant humor and creepy images are unforgettable. No one could say Dahl is talking down to child readers here; the song is not a bit nice, which makes it all the more fun to read.

The song draws on a famous—and famously ghoulish—children's book published in 1848: Struwwelpeter, or Shock-Headed Peter: Merry Tales and Funny Poems. This is a German collection of what now read as uncomfortably macabre poems about bad children who are punished for their misdeeds. One poem is about a little boy who can't break the habit of sucking his thumb. A tailor rushes into his room and cuts off his thumbs. "Snip! Snap! Snip! The scissors go. And Conrad cries out, 'Oh! Oh! Oh!'" When his mother sees her son's mangled hands, she says, "I knew he'd come/to naughty little Suck-a-Thumb."

Other poems in the collection describe a little girl who plays with matches and burns up and a little boy who starves to death because he won't eat his soup. Not particularly merry, but fascinating for 19th-century children: the book has been translated from the original German into 35 languages.

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