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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 4 : The Secret Workers | Summary



The next evening Grandpa Joe explains why no one is ever seen going into or coming out of Mr. Wonka's factory. It seems Mr. Wonka employed thousands of people until spies penetrated the system and began stealing his most famous recipes. Mr. Wonka was so unhappy he fired all his workers, locked the gates, and closed down the factory.

After months the factory showed signs of being in use again. Steam came out of the chimneys; the noise of the machines started up again; and the smell of melting chocolate filled the air. Mysterious shadows could be seen in the factory windows—shadows of people who seemed to be no more than knee-high.

At this point in Grandpa Joe's story, Mr. Bucket rushes in from work. He's waving a newspaper with the huge headline WONKA FACTORY TO BE OPENED AT LAST TO LUCKY FEW.


Mr. Wonka seems to be something of an autocrat in this chapter. He fires everyone and closes the factory, seemingly without consideration for the workers who are innocent of spying. As Grandpa Joe says, "He told all the workers that he was sorry, but they would have to go home."

All books are products of their era, and in the mid-20th century, readers may not have noticed Mr. Wonka was being high-handed with his "thousands" of workers.

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