The Candyman Can
Unlike many people think - or may believe to remember - , childhood is not always a picturesque time in our lives. For some people who can remember, childhood means a memory of dark loneliness and painful living. Classmates can be malicious, teachers can be cruel, and parents can be unobservant. However, stories told by those people can give meaning and an optimistic ending for those who listen.
Roald Dahl is one example. His unhappy experiences of the school inspired to write stories of children's point of view of a tough and very frustrating time through many appealing characters, and selling more than 250 million copies worldwide.
In books like Matilda and James and The Giant Peach, the author depicts in a darkly comic mood the struggle an impotent child can suffer amongst oblivious - and many times villainous - adults. But speaking of oblivious adults, there is one book where he points the reader's eyes to this fact that is more and more present in modern society: how parents can lead badly their children; or how can children turn out to be spoiled obnoxious little versions of their own parents.
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl shows us this aspect through the humble Charlie who comes from a humble and destitute family in contrast with the other children who reflect their parents themselves. Despite being fortuned with money, food and entertainment, the children in contrast lack what Wonka truly thinks wealth means. You can say Dahl blames the parents because it is their fault and they are responsible, but he also partially blames the kids for the way they chose to be and they ought to be punished for their misbehaviour. Wonka is not stupid to award an unworthy child, and we can see how he treats everyone with a level of disdain and condescension - especially the adults. And Dahl plays this game of Wonka treating the parents as small children and the children themselves with the respect as people responsible for their own behaviour - owners of their own thinking - should be treated. Especially because you don't have to be destitute to be humble.
The main question remains as "who will win the prize?" until the end, when it turns into "what makes a child good to win the prize?". A not so much but a still moralistic ending without being so didactic, for it gives the message without preaching as in fables. It leans to a modern fairy tale when it gives an optimistic defiance of trying - even the poorest boy can have a chance and be appreciated for his value - and that may evil fall and good triumph, which leads young readers not only to identify with young Charlie but desire to be like him, therefore be humble and good.
All that sprinkled with the sweetness comfort a chocolate bar can give.