Greetings. I hope those of you who picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory again enjoyed the story, either for the first time or again. Like Mary, I'm looking forward to the new film, largely because it's reported to be a faithful adaptation of the book. Although the book is a rapid, apparently unsophisticated read, and although most are familiar with the story from the 1972 movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," I think reading this book is worthwhile beyond its value as a source of amusement. A lot of questions pop up as you read with a different perspective, and it's interesting to consider the story beyond its basic plot. To kick us off, here are some thoughts:
The first movie, the one most of us remember, differs dramatically from the book, in which Charlie is a muted presence throughout. Which version do you prefer?
The movie adds negative qualities to Charlie, whereas in the book, he's basically a flat character. The only real glimpse we get of Charlie involves taking the dollar and spending it greedily on himself rather than giving it to his mother to help his starving family. In the text, the other kids' behavior clearly offers lessons in morality, but what are we to learn from Charlie? Is he even the protagonist? Why didn't Dahl do more with him?
In the first version of the text, the Oompa Loompas were actually African pygmies, and if read with that in mind, there's a lot of racist subtext (the Oompa Loompas are shown as depending upon Wonka, who doesn't seem to care much for them). Dahl ultimately rewrote the Oompa Loompas because of the criticism, but considering the first version opens up a whole new set of interpretations.
Besides that, what's to be made of the Oompa Loompas' rather viscous songs, and the removal of them from the first filmed version? What role do the serve? Speaking of roles, what about Wonka? The book seems to suggest he's responsible for the town's poverty, yet he's drawn as a sympathetic character. What do we take away about business and its relationship to people?