Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Chapter 7 : Charlie's Birthday | Summary

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Summary

It's the next morning, and Charlie has just come into his grandparents' room with his annual birthday candy bar. His family waits eagerly for him to open it, but Charlie is reluctant, fearing the disappointment that's almost certainly in store. Everyone tries to cheer him up in advance. The odds are incredibly small. The candy will still taste good. Still, they—like Charlie—know the chance is there ...

Charlie tears off a small corner of the paper, then quickly rips it down the middle. A plain, ticket-less chocolate bar falls into his lap. Charlie smiles sadly and offers his family a bite. "I want everybody to taste it." But his elders refuse, and his mother sends her disappointed son to school.

Analysis

A less skilled author might have had Charlie find a Golden Ticket in his birthday chocolate bar, but Dahl knows how to create realistic suspense. First, he has Charlie's elders remind the boy he has no real chance, which is just the kind of thing adults would say. Then he takes readers inside the adults' heads: like Charlie, they can't help thinking the Golden Ticket might be there. Since they know there's a slight chance, they become impatient with Charlie for stalling. "Please open it," says Grandma Georgina. "You're making me jumpy"—as if her nervousness is Charlie's fault!

The adults' reaction is very well done. "That's that! It's just what we expected," says Grandpa Joe brightly. The grandparents watch Charlie intently, hoping he's not disappointed.

Charlie is disappointed, of course, but his response is almost saintly: he tries to share the bar with his family. Following in the tradition of the lowly hero of many folk tales, Charlie's humility and true goodness set him apart from his peers. This is a poignant moment. Charlie wants to cheer up his elders, but his offer to share the candy also shows his level of disappointment. This birthday chocolate bar usually means everything to Charlie, but even chocolate seems less important than a Golden Ticket. Without a ticket even chocolate is meaningless. Dahl has managed to convey a lot of emotions in a very compact space.

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