sábado, 6 de octubre de 2007

THE TASTY FACTORY VERSUS THE SUGAR POWER (Charlie and the chocolate factory)


Charlie and the chocolate factory is an amazing book written by Roald Dahl first published in USA in 1964. Dahl´s childhood experiences were so vivid that they are ever-present in their books. As a student, he lived opposite CARDBURY´S factory and this seemed to furnish his memories with sugar flashes that fed Charlie Bucket’s story (for Dahl’s biography, see the following web pages in Spanish, and in English) Roughly speaking, the plot deals with a boy, Charlie Bucket, whose dad is workless and her family is deprived of the minimums. He dreams of entering Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory, fact that nobody has ever achieved so far. However, Mr. Wonka states that those five children holding GOLDEN TICKETS which can be gotten in Wonka´s chocolate bars, can access the ever-dreamt factory. So it happens, and the five kids and their parents-Grandpa Joe, Charlie’s granddad will exceptionally be Charlie’s companion- will start a strange journey within the most exotic and oddest factory you have ever visited. The aim is that one of the kids will end being the winner…the prize: sweets forever, sweets for the winner’s entire lifetime … and something else that the eager reader must find out by reading the book. What first strikes me as a reader, being a teacher myself, was that the whole EDUCATIVE COMMUNITY is fully depicted in the narration. The children, divided in “goodies”, on the one hand, and the “baddies”, on the other hand. The baddie prototype’s profile seems to be: fat, talkative, invariably spoilt, impatient, too inquisitive, a professional interrupter (never raising their hand to ask for their turn), moneyed, greedy, and a record beater. Those are the antagonists of the “goodie” par excellence, Charlie Bucket who is sober, humble, a working class sample, champion of self-restraint (see how he eats his chocolate bar in a slow motion mode) generous, thin, silent-prone, an attentive watcher of the events happening around (that’s why he found by chance, by observing, the most desired GOLDEN TICKET). Think about a bucket’s shape and try to match it with this character’s personal features: his generosity together with the space available in a bucket to contain hot chocolate. On the other hand, the parents who invariably spoilt their children, doing without “NO” as an answer. Regarding the kids, their onomatopoeic names refer to their “flaw” and announce ironically their end in Wonka´s contest (let’s say that NAMES MEAN AND ARE POWERFUL). Augustus GLOOP, unhealthily fat swallows everything he comes across in a single “gloop”; he will end doing GLOOP in a chocolate lake; Mike TEEVEE (say his surname out loud) will be torn into pieces by his beloved TV; Veruca Salt the I-want-all one, will become a victim of her whims and endless pampering attitude; as to Violet Beauregard the gum-lover, will end as a multicolour balloon (I wonder, does her French surname has to do something with that final big balloon which she turns to be?...) As usual Dahl displays a witty irony that makes us laugh…. What about the teachers… where are they embedded? Needless to say, that Mr Wonka, embodies all those skills that a teacher needs to deal with their varied “zoo”: he is calm, patient, prone to laugh, ironic, fluent, perfectionist, demanding… He is a mixture of conductor-always in a tuxedo- a magician-with a top hat ready for surprises- an inventor-as teachers invent new strategies- a witty business man always thinking of new inversions. His eschatological side (“burping encouragement”) tunes in with children, and his taking up in saying-no to kids relieves tired parents. He also meets the prototype of the self-made man that has ever been promoted in puritan countries as UK and USA, a man that out of nothing has built up a fortune. With regards to the factory, we must bear in mind that Dahl lived the prons and cons of the 2nd Industrial revolution in United Kingdom, the country that set the reference of the Industrial system. Charlie’s workless father, the impoverished atmosphere of starvation where Charlie lives, are the reflection of the dark side of the industrial revolution (remember Oliver Twist’s, the workhouses and the exploitation that entailed the industrial birth). Mr. Wonka´s factory is so as to say “the counter-factory”, the most ironic depiction of the traditional factory: it’s tasty,( taste is the most beloved sense for Dahl, his stories collection “Taste and other tales” for adults stands for that) colourful, nobody comes in or leaves it (therefore their workers must live in, a welcoming space whatsoever), it produces some goods that last for a lifetime, and ,of course, they are sweets, the kids´ delight; so, more than money the aim is to produce pleasure. What’s more, the grey ugliness of the classical factories disappears, there is also specialised labour – foretelling the industry’s future- and a touch of science fiction, workers dressed up as astronauts. To finish with, workers, the naughty, kind, fizzy and singing OOMPA LOOMPAS work strike-free for their beloved cacao-beans which are invariably fed by their benefactor, Mr. Wonka since they can’t fetch them by themselves: the perfect give-and-take contract between boss and employees. If you feel like not only “tasting” the book but also watching it, let me recommend you its film counterpart “Charlie and the Chocolate factory” directed by Tim Burton(Films like “Nightmare before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands or the recent Bride’s corpse sound to you familiar) Mr. Wonka is performed by the well-known “Caribbean Pirate” Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow); he takes Wonka´s ironic vein to preposterous lengths…brilliant indeed. Besides, you will see a striking chocolate river/waterfall that according to the director of the film it has been made with real chocolate to get the most perfect visual results. The film has its musical part as the little elves, the oompa-loompas, devise funny songs to comment the character’s doings; this matches the British tradition of the nursery Rhythms that have been fully used by plenty of teachers at nurseries to pacify children and teach them their mother tongue. The sketchy illustrations of the book skilfully drawn by Quentin Blake suit the contents and also tune in with Tim Burton’s-the film director- aesthetics…we may say that there exists a perfect merging between the film director’s likes and Dahl’s ways. Concluding, Charlie’s family lies as a stronghold, the backbone of his personality. It’s an inclusive family, the traditional, opposite to today’s nuclear one, so the oldies (grandparents) are kindly welcome: If you see the film, the grandparents´ bed is located in the centre of the Bucket’s house, meaning they make a key part of the children’s education…this doesn’t seem to be today’s motto. It strikes the reader the fact that the grandparents are as enthusiastic as children: the circle of life comes full circle….The book is also a homage paid to those “extra-adults”. Let’s finish with two telling quotations of the book uttered by Mr. Wonka: “Be certain to have the ticket with you otherwise you won’t be admitted into the factory”…encouraging the kids to take responsibility, to become aware and respect deadlines, teaching them to live by themselves in society. The other quotation comes from Grandma Georgina when Charlie was about to open his birthday’s chocolate-bar and maybe discover the desired GOLDEN TICKET: “The thing to remember is that whatever happens, you’ll still have the bar of chocolate” a definite stress on the positive side of everyone’s life.

3 comentarios:

EDELRIOFENDETESTAS dijo...

Estupendo artículo, je je, de nada por ayudarte a publicarlo....

Miguel Calvillo dijo...

Anacarmen, tenemos que darte las gracias por haber sido la primera y haberlo hecho así de bien en calidad (y cantidad, jeje).

rafa dijo...

Muy buen artículo pero extenso y díficil para traducirlo jeje pero bueno asi vamos mejorando..