Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 27 : Mike Teavee is Sent by Television | Summary

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Summary

It's not too hard to guess by the title what happens in this chapter. Mike is thrilled about the possibility that he, too, could be sent from one place to another via TV camera. He runs pell-mell toward the camera, pulls down the switch, and jumps in front of the huge TV lens. There's a blinding flash, and Mike disappears.

"We must watch the television set," says Mr. Wonka. "He may come through at any moment." Helpfully, he adds that he hopes no part of Mike is left behind. But after he's adjusted the TV for a few seconds, Mike's tiny image appears on the screen. He's squeaking "Hi, Mum! ... Hi, Pop"—squeaking because he's now only an inch tall. As happened with the huge chocolate mattress, he's been shrunk to tiny size.

Mrs. Teavee asks if there's anything Mr. Wonka can do. He suggests putting Mike into a machine he uses for testing the stretchiness of chewing gum. Small boys are extremely springy and elastic," he reassures Mike's parents. "They stretch like mad."

So an Oompa-Loompa leads the Teavee family away—Mike struggling and protesting in his father's pocket—and the rest of the Oompa-Loompas begin a song about the perils of watching too much TV.

Analysis

The Oompa-Loompas' song in this chapter is the most proscriptive of any in the book. TV, they sing, "rots the senses in the head!/It kills imagination dead!/It clogs and clutters up the mind!" The child who watches TV "cannot think—he only sees!"

There's a saying that every new medium seems worse than the one preceding it. The printing press was originally seen as threatening because it allowed books to be produced and disseminated too quickly. Socrates warned that reading was dangerous because it would "create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories."

Television was still a relatively new medium when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was written, and readers can see how threatening it seemed to Dahl, who made his living by writing books. Although reliable studies have shown that watching too much TV does harm the viewer's attention span, Dahl didn't know that when he wrote this book. He was just prejudiced against a new technology. What would the Oompa-Loompas have sung about personal computers?

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