Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 21 : Good-by Violet | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Wonka explains the little gray stick of gum is a three-course dinner. When this gum hits the market, "It will be the end of all kitchens and all cooking!" Each stick replaces an entire meal. Chewing a stick is exactly like eating food; it even fills you up.

Violet Beauregarde, the gum-chewing fanatic, is wild to try the new invention. She sticks her own gum behind her ear and orders Mr. Wonka to hand over the magic piece. Mr. Wonka gently tries to dissuade her, saying the formula's not quite right—but suddenly Violet grabs the gum, pops it into her mouth, and begins chewing away.

"Don't!" says Mr. Wonka, but Violet is already enjoying hot, creamy tomato soup. Then the soup changes into roast beef and a buttered baked potato, both delicious. Finally comes third course: blueberry pie.

As Violet's enormous jaw works at the gum, she raves about the pie's delicious flavor. She doesn't realize her face is turning the exact color of a blueberry. Her father orders her to spit out the gum, but it's too late. Violet's whole body is now a "brilliant purplish-blue." And she's swelling up. Before a minute is up, Violet has turned into an enormous blueberry with tiny arms, legs, and head.

Mr. Wonka ruefully explains that this always happens. So far, 20 Oompa-Loompas have turned into blueberries. He summons two Oompa-Loompas and asks them to roll Violet to the Juicing Room. "We've got to squeeze the juice out of her immediately."

Analysis

Violet's three-course meal is so deliciously described that readers will be glad she chewed the gum. And since she grabbed it without permission, she deserves what she gets (at least in this fantasy world).

Notice, again, how much like a stereotyped American Violet's father sounds. "Keep chewing, kiddo! Keep right on chewing, baby!" he yells. As with Augustus Gloop, Dahl makes Violet's parents as shameless as she is. Still, the Oompa-Loompas' song is perhaps too harsh. "There's almost nothing worse to see/Than some repulsive little bum/Who's always chewing gum." While Violet is obnoxious, she's not repulsive—at least until she becomes a blueberry.

But Dahl has set up his story as a morality tale, using the generally extreme poetic justice of folk and fairy tales. Wrongdoers will be aggressively punished no matter how trivial their offenses may be: in the Oompa-Loompas' song the gum-chewer bites off her own tongue. Luckily, it's clear Dahl is exaggerating for effect. Each child's misadventure is a kind of fable, and the moral is heartily satisfying.

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