Friday, September 13, 2013

9/13/13 Happy Birthday Roald Dahl

I did this last year, on RD's 96th birthday, so herewith, seven more quotes worth savoring from one my my favorite authors. (Please don't limit him as a children's author. I've never quite been sure why this matters. It's certainly not children who are writing these books, and it is always through an adult's eyes that these truths (or as Dahl like to approach them, secrets) are imparted, regardless of the intended audience.  )

Luckily, he was prolific enough that I can probably and easily keep coming up with gems until his centenary. 

In fact, I'll just stick to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is set to turn 50 next year, for my seven gems this year. I could wait until next year, but I've never been a terribly patient person. A bit too much like Veruca Salt, perhaps, but there it is.

And, please note, these are quotes from the book. If I see one more Huff Post piece on Dahl's work that references the Wonka film, I might start shoving people into chocolate rivers myself. No, Dahl did not write the dreck that ends the film. "He lived happily ever after." Gah! David Seltzer! Blasphemy!  

My original copy of Charlie (complete with Schindelman illustrations) has a place of honor on my bedside table. Clearly, it was very important to me as a girl to never, ever lose this book.

 . . . and thus, for perhaps half an hour every night, this room would become a happy place, and the whole family would forget that it was hungry and poor.

They all knew it was ridiculous to expect this one poor little candy bar to have a magic ticket inside it, and they were trying as gently and as kindly as they could to prepare Charlie for the disappointment. But there was one other thing that the grown-ups also knew, and it was this: that however small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance was there. The chance had to be there.

There is something about very cold weather that gives one an enormous appetite. Most of us find ourselves beginning to crave rich steaming stews and hot apple pies and all kinds of delicious warming dishes; and because we are all a great deal luckier than we realize, we usually get what we want—or near enough.

Charlie hadn't moved. He had't even unwrapped the Golden Ticket from around the candy bar. He was standing very still, holding it tightly with both hands while the crowd pushed and shouted all around him. He felt quite dizzy. There was a peculiar floating sensation coming over him, as though he were floating up in the air like a balloon. 

For about ten seconds there was an absolute silence in the room. Nobody dared to speak or move. It was a magic moment. 

And his eyes -- his eyes were most marvelously bright. They seemed to be sparkling and twinkling at you all the time. The whole face, in fact, was alight with fun and laughter.

All the most wonderful smells in the world seemed to be mixed up in the air around them -- the smell of roasting coffee and burnt sugar and melting chocolate and mint and violets and crushed hazelnuts and apple blossom and caramel and lemon peel...

Charlie put the mug to his lips, and as the rich warm creamy chocolate ran down his throat into his empty tummy, his whole body from head to toe began to tingle with pleasure, and a feeling of intense happiness spread over him. 

Ah, Charlie, how I love thee, even when wearing my critical literary analysis hat.

I did pull the book apart many years ago, much like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard, but it didn't take away from the magic, at least for me. 

Here's the darker side of Charlie, as interpreted by yours truly, if you feel like a long read. 

My apologies for the spacing. Copying from Word into plain text is a bit . .  wonky.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Corporate Body of Consumption
by Tori Mask
presented at the Conference of College Teachers of English
March 2, 2007

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory debuted in 1964 and is arguably Roald Dahl’s most famous work.  It has been alternately praised, for transforming reluctant readers into voracious ones, much like the Harry Potter series, and damned, for appealing to the lowest common denominator of children’s cruelty and tastelessness.  Largely ignored by critics, Dahl’s work is rife with meta-themes of power and powerlessness, of the gigantic and the miniature, of justice and injustice, of longing and satisfaction of the body.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an incredibly aggressive story of bodies: both the individual and the corporate, obsessed with consumption.  There is deep conflict concerning food, eating, and enjoyment as well as a tragic sense of hunger: for fulfillment, purpose, and meaning.  It is the contradictory nature of the moral and immoral tone of the book, the constant appetites and promised fulfillment, and the tension between the individual and the corporate that largely haunt the story.

The dedication of the book to his son, Theo, opens Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  During the writing of the book, young Theo, only four months old, was hit by a cab when his nanny stepped the baby carriage into the street.  Not expected to live, his brain swelled, and a shunt was inserted.  This “pipe” routinely clogged, sending him back to the hospital, near death, many times.  Dahl, obsessed with inventing a better shunt to save his son’s life, was, as William Todd Schultz points out, inculcating the same fascination of pipes and clogs as body parts into Charlie and the  Chocolate Factory.   It was a way to fight the powerlessness of watching his son suffer.  Earlier, Dahl had lost his first child, Olivia, at age seven to the measles, a haunting reminder of the loss of his own seven year old sister when he was three.    Two months later his father, Harald, died of pneumonia, apparently inconsolable over the loss of his child and unwilling to fight the illness (Dahl, BOY, 19-20).  

Helplessness seemingly planted in Dahl the need to create a world in which good children were saved from such terrible fates, saved from the evils and sorrows of the adult world in general.  Dahl’s work is the post-modern fairy tale in many ways.  In a simplified sense, Dahl’s Willy Wonka tries to control the world rightly  as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory presents a place in which the bad, obnoxious children are punished and the good, poor child is rewarded abundantly.  However, the seeming morality of the work, the clear sense of good and evil, is undermined and compromised.  For Wonka is not an impartial dispenser of justice, and the children on whom these punishments are visited are not exactly evil incarnate.  It is through this tension, of the admittedly obnoxious children and their unjust rewards, and of Willy Wonka as trickster figure, who malevolently dispenses injustices through the working of the mechanized factory, that the book is most enigmatic and intriguing.   The overwhelming and aggressive tendencies of the small children are mirrored in Wonka himself, who appears small, alone, and seemingly frail.   Yet he masterminds and controls the gigantic, unfeeling factory that consumes all who dare enter. 

The titular characters bear out the tension between the individual and the corporate.  Poor little Charlie is utterly vacuous: an empty vessel who is unassuming, dull, and passive.  He is good simply because he is not bad. Essentially, he is “chosen” by Wonka because he would never think for himself.  At the opening of the book, his family grows so poor they are on the brink of starvation.  Indeed, the starving child tries to survive on the very whiffs of chocolate wafting from behind the locked factory gates.  His lone taste of chocolate comes but once a year, significantly, on his birthday.  And he manages to make that one bar of chocolate last for months, through his own frugality.  But, as Hamida Bosmajian points out, even Charlie must succumb to oral greed at least once, in order for him to find the golden ticket.   Charlie, smaller than the rest of the children his age because of malnutrition, is at his most invisible, kneeling to avoid passing out from hunger, when he finds the money in the snow.  He does not immediately buy sustenance, such as bread, but buys chocolate, devouring an entire bar in one gulp, and giving into the urge to buy a second one, in which is hidden the last golden ticket.  However, other than this momentary lapse of oral greed, Charlie remains the ego-less and nearly invisible player destined to be consumed by the greater body of the factory.
The Chocolate Factory itself is filled with contradictions. It is womb-like, a lovely, cozy, warm, and inviting place, with wonderful smells and soft lighting.  But far off, the sounds of a “monstrous gigantic machine” are heard.  While a mother’s heartbeat can be heard from the womb, this sound is far more menacing.  They journey through it is a passage through great intestines, sloping underground and back onto themselves, ever deeper into the bowels of the earth.  The rooms of the factory are enormous and Wonka delightfully reveals his own cravings, telling his guests that he can take all of the earth he wants for his factory, as long as he hollows it out.  These monstrous, subterranean appetites of the factory are both the reflection of Wonka’s individual genius and the mechanized cruelties of a monster.  Thus the factory is a much bigger player than Charlie.  It is the body through which all the children must pass, and has much in common with “ingestion, digestion, and excretion” (Bosmajian 41).  And beneath all the fantastical rooms in the factory exists a hell that incinerates and threatens to immolate the children, disposed of as waste, should they dare to break the rules, to sin, as it were, against Wonka.  Those punishments echo Dante’s Inferno, in which sinners are made “to wallow in the extremity of their sins” (42) 
It must be remembered, though, that these wallowing sinners are none other than four small, albeit annoying, children.  The parents have clearly contributed to their collective bratiness, yet the opening of the novel, reading like a work of drama, presents a list of the five children in the book, and omits the adults as if they are of no consequence. 

Throughout the novel, the children are entirely responsible for their own appetites and the punishments that accompany them.   They are: “Augustus Gloop, a greedy boy; Veruca Salt, a girl who is spoiled by her parents; Violet Beauregarde, a girl who chews gum all day long; Mike Teavee, a boy who does nothing but watch television; and Charlie Bucket, the hero.”  The high crimes for which the first four are sentenced are, in fact, different deadly sins, although only the first two are immediately recognizable. Gluttony (Augustus) and Avarice (Veruca) are relatively straightforward vices exhibited through the actions of these children.  The “sins” of gum chewing and television watching are a bit more dubious.  Each vice is designed to offer a particular temptation to the individual child so that, succumbing, they can all be justifiably consumed.  It is this unconvincing but elaborately staged justification that makes the story problematic.  

The first “winner” of the contest is Augustus, whose name is both fitting and ironic.  He is the first to find the ticket, the day after the contest is announced, simply because he eats so much. The newspaper picture of him is focused upon his enormity, “a boy so enormously fat he looked as though he had been blown up with a powerful pump.  Great flabby folds bulged out from every part of his body, and his face was like a monstrous ball of dough with two small greedy, curranty eyes” (27).  His mother’s comments in the interview focus upon his need of nourishment, and she categorizes eating as his hobby and his only interest.  His appetite and his body are uncontrollable.  Charlie’s grandmothers categorize both mother and son as revolting and repulsive.  

The second child to find a golden ticket is Veruca Salt, a “small girl”, who is overindulged with every whim.  Her father buys hundreds of thousands of candy bars for his peanut factory workers to unwrap.  The sheer enormity of this undertaking and the cost involved aligns the size of little Veruca’s appetites as equivalent to Augustus’. Charlie’s grandmothers decide she is even worse than the “fat boy.”  
Violet Beauregarde, the gum-chewer, is obsessed with orality; her mouth is always moving, chewing, or talking.  Hers is an appetite of mouth movement, but not consumption.  Appetite is never satisfied.  She is additionally guilty of the sin of pride, particularly with her obsession about holding the “world record” for gum chewing, and her related sense of self-importance.  When the reporters arrive, she is the only child to conduct her own interview, disparaging her mother in the process.  Interestingly, violet is the color historically associated with the Sin of Pride.   Charlie’s grandmothers pronounce her to be “beastly” and “despicable” (Dahl 38).

Mike Teavee, obsessed with watching television, has yet another inversion of appetite.  He “feeds” on electronic images, using his vision to consume, rather than his mouth.  He refuses to even leave his viewing spot for the dinner table.  Since each of the children is supposedly “guilty” of some deadly sin, for which they are to be justifiably punished, Mike’s vice seems to be most closely aligned with Sloth, since he staunchly refuses to leave the couch in front of the television set.  When the reporters arrive he is “extremely annoyed by the whole business” (38) because his television programs, all violent shows about cowboys and gangsters, are being interrupted.  At this point, the grandmothers label all the children as “brats”, and “nasty little beasts” (40).  

Dahl repeatedly inserts this commentary of the grandmothers, themselves shriveled and hungry and self-righteous, after every child’s introduction into the story. The grandmothers, apart from asserting that all the winners are no better than animals, are themselves as inert and passive as the children are aggressive.  They, with their husband counterparts, have not left their bed in decades.  These four old people form an interesting balance to the four antagonistic children, with little Charlie centered between them.  He is the bright spot of their day, unfailingly selfless and good-natured, and they bestow upon him their knowledge and admiration of the magical Mr. Wonka.  They regale him with tales of Wonka’s genius, feeding him on the stories when there is no more food to eat.  It is at precisely one of these moments when the supposed opportunity for salvation is announced and the search for the golden tickets begins in earnest.

The well-orchestrated marketing campaign that has induced world-wide frenzy for consumption of Wonka products brings the four rude children and Charlie into the factory, quite literally into the belly of the beast.  The journey can be read on many levels, with widely divergent readings of Wonka  as the Creator of his own universe to a simply brilliant capitalist, driving consumers mad for his “divine” chocolate, in order to boost profits. Every interpretation, though, is connected to consumption in some way. 
The whole novel has been leading up to Wonka’s second coming: a glimpse of the master after years of expectation.  The name Willy, boy-like and connected to desire, is followed by “Wonka,” most probably an echo of the British term “wonky”, meaning unsound or unstable.    “All alone” and characterized as an “extraordinary little man”, this first glimpse of him bears a closer look, as it reveals the contradictory natures of the man and his factory.  Immediately identified as “little”,  contrasted with the enormous factory behind him, he wears bottle green trousers, in leprechaun fashion, and a “plum colored” velvet tailcoat.  The purple and green are unsophisticated in their mismatched manner, but the accompanying top hat, gray gloves, and gold walking cane are decidedly formal, “adult” and “old.”  The majority of the description is focused on the expressive quality of his eyes: “marvelously bright”, “sparkling and twinkling”, “alight with fun and laughter.”  In fact, his mannerisms are described as like a “quick, clever old squirrel from the park” (61-2).  He is not only wonky, but squirrely, too.  The mixture of imagery leaves the reader with a sense of Wonka as not quite human, although child-like and old at the same time, part animal, part mystery.  His speech is punctuated with exclamation marks; he is pure aggression and excitement.  As the creator of the factory, with its corporate cycle of production and consumption, he is aligned with both the clever genius of the individual and the harnessing of that mind into the faceless giant of the industrial.

Wonka cannot, of course, manage the faceless giant on his own, hence the need for the Oompa Loompas.  In the first British and U.S. editions, the Oompa Loompas were black pygmies. In response to criticism of the depiction of the Oompa Loompas, from “deepest, darkest Africa”, particularly the objections voiced in Lois Kalb Bouchard’s 1970 essay , in subsequent editions their description was revised, so that they were “rosy white,” (Dahl 83) with long, flowing golden hair, from the fictional LoompaLand.  The fact remains, however, that Wonka has essentially enslaved this race in his factory to do his bidding.  No one has left the factory in at least ten years, when Wonka smuggled the whole lot of them over as cargo in “large packing cases with holes” (76).  Only knee high, they create the illusion that Wonka is a big man, the giant in control.  Tellingly, the capitalist greed that fostered enslavement is symbolized in Veruca Salt, who immediately announces that she wants to take an Oompa Loompa home with her, like some exotic pet.  The fact that this race of primitive people has been enslaved, treated as animals, and even shipped as freight, is glossed over in the book, and they are categorized as delighted, grateful, and conspiratorial servants to a benevolent master.

Master Wonka first escorts his guests to The Chocolate Room, the “nerve center of the whole and factory, the heart of the whole business” (68)!  The part of the factory making the monstrous sounds is partially forgotten as the vision of this paradise overwhelms and hypnotizes. The waterfall of chocolate makes the onlookers dumbfounded, “completely bowled over by the hugeness of the thing” (70).  Somewhere, unseen, the body of the factory groans, either in labor or in digestion and excretion.   But the paradise within view, in accordance with the motif of longing, of the body and oral needs, is entirely edible, from the grass up.  Rather than question or think, Wonka’s guests are encouraged to eat with abandon.  And like the Garden of Eden, there is the forbidden fruit in its midst: the chocolate river that must not be touched.

That forbidden fruit makes Augustus the first child on whom punishment is inevitable, because he cannot control his appetite.  Feverishly, he begins using his hands to drink the precious chocolate flowing in the river.  Wonka is sickened by the idea of children’s hands on his chocolate, and more repulsed by Augustus’ near drowning in his now polluted river.  Because of Gloop’s uncontrolled oral greed, he is consumed by the factory, digested and pushed through its valves, momentarily even constipating them, and disappearing into parts unknown.  Wonka, who reacts to Augustus’ disappearance as good riddance, disparages his mother’s fear for her son’s life and jokes about whether her son will be made into fudge, a disgustingly delicious euphemism for excrement.  

An Oompa Loompa, summoned by Wonka as an escort for the Gloops to the fudge room, “explode[s] into peals of laughter” (83) when Wonka tells him what has happened. The rest of the Oompa Loompas present regale the rest of the party with a song about Augustus, “the great big greedy nincompoop”, who is also called a “beast”, a “pig”, revolting”, “unutterably vile, so greedy, foul, and infantile”, that his fitting and just punishment is that he should be sweetened, sliced into fudge, and consumed.  The multiple and mixed uses of fudge as sweet candy and excrement reveal the duel nature of this oral paradise, and the aggressive cruelty that resides under the façade of Wonka.  The fat boy deserves to be eaten in Dahl’s world!

The next part of the journey, part of which is facilitated by Oompa Loompas rowing the guests in a candy boat on the chocolate river, comes another indication that the whole contest has been rigged to choose Charlie, as Wonka makes what will be his only kind gesture in the whole of the book.  While the other children make snide remarks, or try to lick the boat, Charlie “smiled up at the old man” (88).  Perhaps moved by this beatific sight of worship, Wonka immediately scoops up some of the creamy chocolate and offers it to Charlie and Grandpa Joe, fulfilling their hunger.  The reaction of Charlie to the taste is far more than physical, for “a feeling of intense happiness spread over him” (89).  The alignment of chocolate and happiness, ingestion and contentment, and of the seeming hypnotic properties of Wonka’s offering, create more questions than such a gesture answers. Tellingly, during the ride, when all the others are calling Mr. Wonka crazy, it is Grandpa Joe, having just satiated himself on the man’s pleasure-filled chocolate, who vehemently defends Wonka as caring and benevolent.

In the Inventing Room, further connection of the factory to the body is evident.  The sucking noises, groans, ovens, and the “birth” of candies are illustrated in the creation of the Everlasting Gobstopper, which refuses to be consumed.  It is mentioned that numerous Oompa Loompas are subjected to various tests, including the non-stop sucking of a gobstopper, the consumption of the over-strong hair growing toffees that require lawnmowers to shave the excessive hair grown on one Oompa Loompa, as well as the unfortunate Oompa Loompa who got lost in the heavens when Wonka was testing Fizzy Lifting Drinks outdoors.  Like the visiting children, these test subjects find their bodies overgrown or overtaken by and in the interest of the dangerous products of Wonka’s factory without any concern for their individual well-being.

The other focus of the Inventing Room is the Gum Machine, which makes even more bodily sounds, and produces a thin stick of gum, pure temptation for Violet, much like the chocolate river was for Augustus.  This gum, however, is the ultimate temptation for her, since Violet wants to be the first and thus famous, person to try the gum.  This gum offers not only flavor but also magical sustenance, with the chewer experiencing each flavor of a four-course meal and getting truly satiated from the chewing.  Wonka’s feeble protestations are staged, clearly aimed at only being able to say “I told you so” when she snatches and chews gum, which turns Violet violet, and promptly swells her into a gigantic blueberry.  Wonka offhandedly remarks that twenty of his Oompa Loompas have ended up the same way.  As she is rolled away to be de-juiced, her consumption by the factory is complete: it has blown her up into a fruit and now will squeeze the stuff out.  Over and over again, consumption of the individual’s appetites by the corporate one impels the narrative.

Mike Teavee asks a perceptive and thoughtful question: if Wonka thinks gum so disgusting, why does he makes it in his factory?  In response, Wonka feigns deafness and pushes the group at an even more frenetic pace, with many of them running to keep up with him.  Thinking and questioning are clearly to be avoided.  The group rushes past fantastical glimpses of candy making, pausing only occasionally, until they stop to rest at the Nut Room.  Here, again, Wonka opportunely offers a particular temptation to Veruca, who, having already made plain her appetite for possessions, particularly unusual pets, cannot help but rush into the room to nab herself a trained squirrel.  With a name closely resembling the German word, verruckt, meaning crazy, and her father asking Wonka how much he wants for one of his “crazy squirrels” (118), it is inevitable that the squirrel-like Wonka rebuffs him, so that Veruca can fall into one of her fits, and barge into the room, where the squirrels immediately subdue her, find her head empty, and throw her down the garbage chute with the other bad nuts. Her parents, rushing in to find her are, appropriately, also tossed in.  The chute ends at the incinerator, and Wonka seems little disturbed by the idea that they will end up like all the rest of the garbage, burned to death. 

 The Oompa Loompa song for Veruca is the only one that places some of the blame for her behavior at the feet of her parents, but this is largely as an afterthought, and only in the closing lines of the poem.  In general, the blame for the consumption and excretion of the children is squarely placed on their own shoulders.  They ask for it.

The remaining boys, Mike and Charlie, are introduced to the great glass elevator.  The glass allows the riders to see where they are hurtling in the factory, with even faster glimpses of the fantasy that the place embodies, and the infinite number of buttons indicates how vast the body of the factory has become.  The aggressive nature of the elevator is heightened when Wonka mentions its twin, which travels the same tracks in the opposite direction and will kill them all if encountered. Having just boasted that this elevator can travel in every direction, it is curious that a second one would be needed, except for the thrill of a possible collision.  This is yet another piece of the puzzle of aggression and death presented by the gigantic body of the machine.

Of all the choices of destination available, Mike’s only interest is in locating the television.  Symbolically, the Television-Chocolate Room is blindingly white: stark, and empty.  Television, which the narrative clearly denounces as “rotting the brain” (146), has been magically transformed by Wonka so that it can shoot an enormous chocolate bar, roughly the size of Charlie’s bed, through “space.”  It arrives in miniaturized form at the other end of the room.  Here, again, is the suspicious parallel of digestion and the excreted final product, coming out the other end.  Wonka, contradictory as always, denounces television, and yet uses it to his profit, swearing his Television Chocolate will be a great advertising success.  He illustrates his concept of delivering not just the picture of his chocolate, but the chocolate itself.  Mike, trained to believe television can only be two-dimensional, will not reach out and touch the chocolate bar, but Charlie, ever the empty vessel, follows Wonka’s instructions exactly, and is rewarded by grasping the “reality” of the chocolate.  

Again, the motif of fulfillment is granted to Charlie, who obeys the order of the factory.
Mike’s excitement over this breakthrough is the perfect temptation, so that he inevitably tries to realize his life-long dream of being on television by sending himself through the machine.  His miniaturized form arrives complete, despite Wonka’s gleeful assertion that part of him might get lost in transmission.  In keeping with the veiled excremental references, Mike’s father hopes “it’s the top half” (141).  Standing one inch tall, his mother’s declaration of him as a “midget” is vast understatement, and Wonka’s assertion that he is “unharmed” is laughable.  Mike agrees with Wonka’s assertion, though, since this means he will no longer be able to go to school and therefore will have more time to watch television.  He and his parents are taken to the gum stretching room in order to make him larger, and the Oompa Loompa song that marks his departure is the longest one of the four.  It is, in effect, a five-page rant against the evils of television, which “ROTS THE SENSES”, “KILLS THE IMAGINATION”, and “CLOGS AND CLUTTERS THE MIND” (146).  Except, it must be assumed, Wonka television.

When it must be pointed out to Wonka that only Charlie remains, he is described as “pretending to be surprised” and admits to the boy that he “had a hunch” (149).  Having tempted and dispensed with the aggressive children, both as punishment to them and as an effective warning to Charlie, should he try to develop his own free will, Wonka announces that he shall choose the next destination in the Great Glass Elevator, with the button marked “UP AND OUT” (151).  In this inverted birth scene Wonka reveals his own mortality, his lack of family, and his use of Charlie as the empty vessel --  “a good sensible loving child” -- he has been seeking, in order to preserve his “magic.”   His adoption of Charlie as son and heir to the factory mark Charlie as part of the factory, of that immortal body, through which he has just passed and been “reborn.” 

This seemingly “happily ever after” ending is not complete without the possession and consumption of all of Charlie’s family.  The elevator lands, virtually destroying the little house, and the grandparents who are still in the bed, try to refuse to be taken.  “Taking no notice of their screams,” Wonka pushes the bed into the elevator and appropriates them, while the grandmothers are “petrified with fear” (161).    They are now his to return to the factory.  

The fairy tale quality of the book, apart from its problematic ending, has been characterized as a post-industrial “Hansel and Gretel” (Bosmajian 36).   It offers characters that are remarkable for their flatness, as none appreciably change throughout the book, but are supposed to be clearly aligned with good and evil.  Wonka, though intended by Dahl to be entirely good and just, is clearly not.  David Rees finds the story filled with contradictions, arguing that Dahl, “enjoys writing about violence at the same time condemning it” (147).  Wonka’s and his factory supposedly save but clearly consume all who would come near.  The Factory, as the gigantic body from which Charlie is “reborn” and to which he will return, fits what Susan Stuart calls a continual projection of “the body into the world in order that its image might return to us: onto the other, the mirror, the animal, and the machine” (125).  Roald Dahl, by extension, fathers the Trickster Wonka, what Stuart calls the “spirit of creativity, a refuser of rigid systems . . .both credited for founding culture and accused of violating the norms of culture” (106), and yet sets him up as the brains of the rigid system, a world in which the giant eats, digests, and expels its children, both chocolate and human.  It is an aggressive monster of consumption and only this unfeeling, gigantic body finally matters in the book: the mechanized corporation.  It is this “paradox of contained and container at once” (104) that creates the underlying tension, brilliance, and hidden pessimism of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Works Cited
Bosmajian, Hamida. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Other Excremental 
Visions.”  The Lion and the Unicorn. 9 (1985): 36-49.

Bouchard, Lois Kalb.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A New Look at an Old 
Favourite.”  International Review of Books for Children. 1970.  Rpt. in Racism 
and Sexism in Children’s Books.  n.p.: Writers and Readers Publishing 
Cooperative, 1979.  41-44.

“A Brief History of Sins.”  7 Deadly Sins <>
Dahl, Roald.  BOY: Tales from Childhood.  New York: Puffin, 1988.

---.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. New York: Puffin, 1973.

“Pictures from Roald Dahl’s Photo Archive.” The Guardian Unlimited. 2006.
Accessed: 14 Jan. 2007,8550,1368945,00.html

Rees, David.  “Dahl’s Chickens.”  Children’s Literature in Education.  19.3 
(1988): 143-55.

Schultz, William Todd. “Finding Fate’s Father.”  Biography 21.4 (1998): 463-81.

Stewart, Susan.  On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the 
Souvenir, the Collection.  Durham: Duke U.P., 1993.

Treglown, Jeremy.  Roald Dahl: A Biography.  New York : Farrar, Straus, 
Giroux, 1994.

“Wonky.”  World Wide Words: Investigating International English from a British 
Viewpoint.  <>

NOTES (Sorry, notations were lost in the copying over from Word into Blogger, so good luck linking these back to the paper itself.)

  Schultz offers an insightful psycho-biographical reading of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, much of it based on Treglown’s biography.

  Schultz’ reading of the book is what he calls “pseudo-biographical,” tying the tragedies not only to Dahl’s sense of justice, but to his need to re-create his father, pointing to the similarities between Wonka and Harald Dahl.  He points out the line of the film in which a woman cries, “All I want is to have Harold back!” as an undoubted reference to Dahl’s need.  However, it is unclear whether Dahl actually wrote these lines.

  Bosmajian’s essay “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Other Excremental Visions” is the most comprehensive literary analysis of the novel. 
  Indeed, Bosmajian includes a long line of “excremental” literature, including The Inferno, writings by protestant reformists, including Martin Luther, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Bettleheim’s work, and Freud’s.

  For a good overview and break down of the “Seven Deadlies”, including animal and color associations, please see “A Brief History of Sins.”

  Bosmajian’s essay outlines the story according to each of Northrop Frye’s five modes of action: Mythic, Romantic, High Mimetic, Low Mimetic, and Ironic.

  The name Wonka, while probably an invention of Dahl, is probably based on some idea or adjective, as Dahl has proven time and again that he has a penchant for Dickensian naming.  The most comprehensive coverage of the possible meanings of “wonk” and its associated “wonky” and “wonka” is found at World Wide Words: Investigating International English from a British viewpoint.  Another account of the name comes from Dahl’s half-brother Louis’ invention of “a boomerang-type toy, the Skilly Wonka”(“Pictures” n.p.) 

  Bouchard argued in the piece that many of the stereotypical characteristics of the Oompa Loompas are a direct reflection of the persistence of racism and that even their size was symbolic of “their implied inadequacies” (44).

  Bosmajian points out the similarity of the openings: “Hard by a forest lived a woodcutter with his wife.  They were so poor. . .” opens “Hansel and Gretel”, and “The whole of this family . .  . lived together in a small wooden house on the edge of a great town” introduces Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


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