"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Debating Roald Dahl

My son has reached the age of reason. OK, I know he's only 7, but the other day in the car we had our first real debate. Loved it!

His first grade class just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and now, to celebrate, they're watching the movie. But see, the thing is there's always been something about CATCF that's just needled at me.

Willy Wonka essentially put out these golden tickets to find an heir - someone worthy enough to take over the factory. Each kid messes up and is out of the running.
Augustus falls in the chocolate lake.
Violet chews the gum and turns into a blueberry.
Veruca goes down the garbage shoot.
Mike teleports and becomes six inches tall.
Charlie drinks the fizzy, lifting drink.

So my question is this: Why is Charlie worthy to become the heir? He made a mistake just like all the other kids. Sure, he didn't get carried off by Oompa-Loompas, but he still disobeyed the rules.

This has always bothered my, so I asked my son. His theory (theories):
Grandpa made Charlie do it.
Charlie's mistake was not as bad.
Charlie did not get taken away.

Your thoughts? Am I the only person in the world who's wondered about this very important issue?


Jen Bradbury said...

Charlie felt bad. All the other kids felt entitled and victimized. Charlie felt badly about it. Remorse = integrity?

If seven year olds wrote thesis papers, your son would have a killer topic . . .

Working Mom said...

In the movie, he gave back the everlasting gobstopper, which showed he had integrity. Wasn't there some version of that in the book? I can't remember.

PJ Hoover said...

So Jen and Working mom - it comes down to integrity? And Charlie showed it???
So all kids will make mistakes, but it's knowing when and how to be truly sorry for the mistakes made and to try to make things better???

beth said...

I always thought it had something to do with intent. Namely, the other kids intended to do something wrong. They were selfish. Charlie was just curious (and coerced.)

Erin said...

does that happen in the book? all I really remember about the story is the new movie with Johnny Depp, in which he doesn't do anything wrong, he's a genuinely (but not fakely so) good kid.

PJ Hoover said...

Good question, Erin. I dug out my old book and could find nothing Charlie did wrong. No stealing Everlasing Gobstoppers. No drinking fizzy drink. Was this all a fabrication of Hollywood?

Erin said...

Yeah, I didn't think so. I didn't remember that from the book (which I read a long time ago), and then I watched the new movie which followed the book pretty well I thought, and THEN I watched the old movie and I was so shocked when they had Charlie do wrong like that. It's just not in keeping with the story at ALL. That's why I don't like the old movie.

PJ Hoover said...

It's actually comforting to know the book doesn't have it!

keri mikulski :) said...

Hmm.. I only saw the movie. :)

PJ Hoover said...

It's been years since I read the book, Keri! But maybe it's time again!

Beth, Charlie was curious, and the other kids were portrayed as horrible, awful children. I may need to rewatch the movie to see again how they did this scene. You think I can convince my kids to watch it?

beth said...

Sure! Why wouldn't they?

Sheri said...

I never got this either and the most recent version with Johnny Depp!?! What were they thinking? He was like Carol Channing and Michael Jackson's love child. Normally I love Johnny. I have been a fan of his since his 21 Jump Street days and yes, I did just date myself, but I digress.

I also never understood why Charlie won. I always just thought because his name was in the title, that, that was enough.

But I suppose when you get down to it, all the other kids really were brats. They got in toruble because they didn't care about the rules and didn't listen because they didn't want to listen. Charlie wasn't a brat. He was a good, kind kid, but he was curious. Not much of a distinction to me, but for Hollywood, it was.

However, have you ever read the book? Maybe they mitigate his character more in the book...

PJ Hoover said...

Sheri, you crack me up! Thank you for the laugh. :) And can you say 21 Jump Street again! He was the bomb in that show.
I read the book AGES ago, but just got it out again. I think Charlie is flawless in the book. And funny enough, in the first movie, they change the name to Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Hollywood is magic. And funny.

Beth said...

I think he doesn't get caught (in the movie). In the book he doesn't do it -- he's the last kid standing.

Cop didn't see it == I didn't do it. An important moral lesson for the young.

PJ Hoover said...

Funny how Hollywood put the spin on it. I wonder why they decided to introduce this nice lesson? :)