Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Study Guide

Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Charlie Bucket and his family live in a small two-room house on the edge of a big town. There are six adults in the house: Charlie's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bucket, and his grandparents: Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, and Grandma Georgina. The family is desperately poor. Mr. Bucket is the only one with a job, but that doesn't bring in half the money the family needs.

Every evening, Charlie spends time with his grandparents before going to bed. One night, he asks them about Wonka's Chocolate Factory, located within sight of his house: Is it really the biggest in the world?

The grandparents assure him it certainly is. It's the biggest and best by far. Mr. Wonka is like a wizard with chocolate. He has invented all kinds of things, from ice cream that stays cold in the sun to caramels that change color every 10 seconds. Once he even built a whole chocolate palace for an Indian prince.

Grandpa Joe adds there's an unsolved mystery about the factory. No one is ever seen going in or coming out, and the gates are always locked. Mr. Wonka himself never comes out. Yet tiny mysterious shadows can be seen moving behind the frosted glass windows.

That evening Mr. Bucket comes home carrying a newspaper with a banner headline: WONKA FACTORY TO BE OPENED AT LAST TO LUCKY FEW. It seems Mr. Wonka is setting up a contest for the chance to visit the factory. Only five people will win, and they can win only by finding one of the Golden Tickets that have been hidden under the wrappers of five candy bars.

Four tickets are found fairly quickly. The first winner is an enormously fat boy named Augustus Gloop. Then comes a rich, spoiled little girl named Veruca Salt. She's followed by Violet Beauregarde, a non-stop gum-chewer. Last comes Mike Teavee, who's addicted to television and toy guns.

While the world waits to see who will find the fifth ticket, Mr. Bucket loses his job. The family begins to starve. The weather is brutally cold, making Charlie even hungrier. All thoughts of the last Golden Ticket leave his mind; he can think only about food.

Then, one afternoon, Charlie finds a dollar bill buried under the snow. He rushes to the nearest shop and buys his favorite Wonka candy bar. He's going to bring home the change, but he can't resist buying just one more candy bar—and that one holds the last Golden Ticket.

The very next day, Charlie and Grandpa Joe wait outside the factory gates with the four other winners and their parents. At 10:00 a.m. Mr. Wonka appears—an elfin figure, wearing a velvet coat and a top hat. He takes the children's tickets and leads everyone inside.

What follows is a tour of the most amazing place on earth. Mr. Wonka is a creative genius. With the help of the tiny Oompa-Loompas from Loompaland, he can make candy into anything he wants. Charlie and Grandpa Joe are staggered by what they see.

But the other four children are less impressed—and much less well behaved. One by one, they're forced to drop out of the tour. Augustus Gloop is the first to go; he falls into a chocolate river and is sucked up into a pipe that will take him to the Fudge Room. Violet Beauregarde helps herself to some magic gum whose formula still needs work, and chewing the gum turns her into a giant blueberry. Veruca Salt and her parents are pushed down a garbage chute by squirrels who work in the Nut Room. And Mike Teavee shrinks to a tiny size when he jumps in front of the camera to a special television Mr. Wonka has invented for shipping chocolate.

All of the children will be rescued, but Charlie is the only contestant still standing. When Mr. Wonka realizes this, he explodes with excitement and begins shaking Charlie's hand. He drags Charlie and Grandpa Joe into an immense glass elevator capable of going in any direction. It can even exit the building by crashing through the roof and flying into the air—which is exactly what happens.

Once the elevator has left the building, Mr. Wonka presses a button that makes it stop and hover in the air. While the three of them look down at the tiny town below, Mr. Wonka tells Charlie he's won more than a visit to the chocolate factory. He's won the factory itself! As soon as Charlie's old enough to run it, Mr. Wonka will turn the business over to him. He doesn't want another grownup in charge: "I want a good sensible loving child, one to whom I can tell all my most precious candy-making secrets."

Now, Mr. Wonka continues, they must ride the elevator to Charlie's house and pick up the rest of the family. They'll all be able to live in the factory and help run it until Charlie's old enough. Charlie doubts his older family members will be able to get out of bed, but Mr. Wonka is undeterred. They'll just bring the bed back to the factory in the elevator.

As he speaks, Mr. Wonka presses a button that makes the elevator crash through the roof into the grandparents' bedroom. He, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe explain everything. Then, ignoring the grandparents' protests, they push the bed into the elevator and take off into the air.

Charlie tells the three old people not to be frightened. They're on their way to the most wonderful place on earth. When Grandma Josephine asks if there will be anything to eat at the new place, Charlie begins to laugh. "Oh, you just wait and see!" he says.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Plot Diagram

Climax123456789Rising ActionFalling ActionResolutionIntroduction


1 Charlie finds a Golden Ticket.

Rising Action

2 The contestants meet Mr. Wonka at the chocolate factory.

3 Augustus Gloop is sucked up a pipe in the chocolate river.

4 Violet Beauregarde is turned into a blueberry.

5 Squirrels throw Veruca Salt down the garbage chute.

6 Mike Teavee shrinks after the first elevator ride.


7 Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Wonka board the glass elevator.

Falling Action

8 Wonka announces Charlie will inherit the factory.


9 Charlie's family prepares to move into the factory with him.

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