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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 24 : Veruca in the Nut Room | Summary

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Summary

When the group reaches the Nut Room, Mr. Wonka suggests they peek through the glass panel of the door. But he warns them they mustn't go into the room or they'll disturb the squirrels.

Inside the Nut Room 100 squirrels are sitting on stools around the table, rapidly shelling walnuts. Mr. Wonka explains they've been trained to extract the nuts in one piece. He points out that the squirrels always tap the nuts first to make sure they're not rancid. Any bad nuts they find are thrown down the garbage chute in the floor.

Veruca Salt now decides she wants one of these squirrels. Her father pulls out his wallet, but Mr. Wonka says the squirrels aren't for sale. Angrily, Veruca flings open the Nut Room door and rushes inside.

She reaches out to grab a squirrel. In a flash the squirrels leap onto her and pin her down. One of them taps her head with its knuckles, as it's been trained to do with walnuts. Her head must sound hollow, because the squirrels pull Veruca to the ground, drag her across the floor, and throw her down the garbage chute.

Mr. and Mrs. Salt rush into the room. When Mrs. Salt bends over the garbage chute to call Veruca, the squirrels push her down the chute. When Mr. Salt bends over the chute, trying to spot his wife, the same thing happens to him.

Mr. Wonka hopes this isn't one of the days when the garbage is incinerated. Maybe the Salts will be lucky.

Analysis

Veruca gets what's coming to her, but in this chapter Dahl is just as interested in what happens to her parents. None of the parents have been particularly likable so far, but the Salts are especially bad. When Mr. Salt pulls out his wallet, readers are meant to see it as a crude and boorish gesture. Flashing cash around shows a lack of breeding; it's vulgar. And for Dahl, vulgarity is a serious flaw. Vulgar people are worthless. That's why it's fitting the Salt family is pushed down a garbage chute. (It's also fitting that Veruca is spoiled: spoiled things get thrown away.)

The Oompa-Loompas' song about Veruca echoes the notion that her parents are to blame for making her the way she is. When they get to the line "A girl can't spoil herself, you know," they sing especially loudly. Most of the song is about the garbage the Salt family will meet at the bottom of the chute, including "a thing the cat left on the stair." The fact that the song is more revolting than the previous ones suggests Dahl finds the Salts' vulgarity even worse than Augustus's gluttony or Violet's gum-chewing.

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