One stereotype being perpetuated in this story is that of the saintly child from humble beginnings in the form of Charlie Bucket. Charlie is described from the beginning as being skeletal and his home as being a shack, so his humble beginning is well established. He is painted as being a good boy, loved by his parents and grandparents, and willing to share, as evidenced by his sharing of his beloved chocolate bar. The archetype of the young poor child is one that is used throughout literature. The Charlie Bucket archetype harkens to other literary characters such as Cinderella, Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, and even Dorothy Gale. These characters all came from humble beginnings and, like Charlie, were portrayed as wholesome and virtuous.
Implications for Education
When considering this book for use with children, I would be cautious. As an adult reading this story, it was easy for me to pick out the negative and violent remarks and read more deeply into some of the descriptions than a younger reader might. To help accommodate for this, I would likely choose to present this story as a read aloud if I were to use it with my third graders. This would allow for discussions about the language that Dahl chose. Aside from clarifying the text, it would also allow for students to explore the idea of questioning text, rather than just accepting it as it is written – just because Dahl chooses to use certain words to describe characters, does that make it alright for us to do the same?
Edie, great paper looking at the "serious" side of Dahl's humor. I LOVE the idea that these are the seven deadly sins in a book for children... sort of.