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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 20 : The Great Gum Machine | Summary

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Summary

A gigantic machine stands in the center of the Inventing Room. When Mr. Wonka presses a few buttons, the machine rumbles into life. After a long interval of rumbling and shaking and whizzing, a tiny drawer pops out of the machine. In the drawer is "a little grey strip." For a second no one knows what it is. Then Violet Beauregarde recognizes it. "By gum, it's gum!" she shrieks.

Analysis

This short chapter could just as well have been combined with the following one, but Dahl likes to end with a cliffhanger whenever he can.

It's easy to see that Dahl likes describing the massive gum-making machine. The machine isn't futuristic at all. In fact there's an old-fashioned Rube Goldberg quality to the way it works. The description is hard to parse; it begs for a detailed illustration. (Where exactly is the huge tub? What does it mean when the tiny drawer pops out of the side of the machine?) The reader may wonder if Dahl himself knows what the machine looks like. But the main point of the description is the contrast between the huge contraption and the tiny stick of gum it produces.

Readers may be as surprised as the group of spectators when the result turns out to be so insignificant. All that work for gum? But if this is Mr. Wonka's favorite machine, the gum must be incredible.

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