Saturday, June 5, 2010

Locus Focus

Locus Focus is a weekly meme hosted by Shredded Cheddar to discuss the place where all the magic happens in a book, literally. It's the place to write about the location a book takes place.
“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of Pure Imagination….”

Those are the words Gene Wilder sang as the eccentric Willy Wonka in 1971’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As much as I adore that movie, it is Roald Dahl’s chocolate factory that we will be visiting today. For those who don’t know, Roald Dahl is the author who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator) on which the movie is based.
Mr. Wonka is a world renowned chocolate maker who has been a recluse for quite some time due to other chocolate factories trying to steal his secrets. No one comes in the large building protected by iron gates and no one goes out. That changes when Mr. Wonka holds a worldwide contest in which five lucky children will gain access to the factory for a tour and also win a lifetime supply of chocolate. Fast forward to the day the lucky winners assemble to claim their prize. The gates spring open and out comes Mr. Wonka to escort them into what can only be described as an edible paradise.

We first encounter the chocolate room with the great chocolate waterfall and river which churn the chocolate to perfection. The children and their escorts stand on edible grass, next to taffy trees. Lollipops sprout from bushes. Every sweet treat you can imagine, a veritable smorgasbord of sugary confections-and that is the room they just get started in. Next it is off to the inventing room where the magic is created including the three course dinner gum and everlasting gobstoppers. Next it is on to the nut room where squirrels break open walnuts for use in the chocolate.

Dahl even conjures several rooms that we don’t visit in the book (but I would love to): The cows that give chocolate milk room, the hot ice cream for cold days room, the invisible chocolate bars for eating in class room. This is also the refuge for poor formerly oppressed Oompa Loompas-those cacao bean loving little guys who work in the factory.
Here is why the chocolate factory stands out to me:
Think of the contrast between the inside of the factory and the area surrounding it. Inside is a magical world that manufactures a product that makes millions of children happy yet right outside the factory lives Charlie Bucket and his starving family in their crumbling house with no hope in sight. But hope is in sight! They just don’t know it yet.

Mr. Wonka, chocolateer extraordinaire is a total weirdo and I love it! Here is a guy who blazed his own path and was enormously successful in doing so. I’ve always had a soft spot for characters that don’t fit the mold of what most consider normal.
To me chocolate factory = happiness. Who could be depressed living in a place like that? Morbidly obese maybe but never unhappy.

Most importantly it is inspirational. When I read the vivid descriptions of sugary goodness in the book and followed Charlie and Grandpa Joe on their grand adventure it sparked my creativity. At around the age I read this book I started making characters of my own and dreaming up fantasy worlds in which they existed. Wonka’s chocolate factory may not have been the only book to set my mind wandering to far off lands but it is definitely in the top ten.

“If you want to view paradise simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Wanta change the world? There's nothing to it…..”


  1. Nice choice! I love this book and the sequel with the glass elevator too btw.

  2. +JMJ+

    What I love most about the Chocolate Factory is that it is also a very moral setting. The children who are naughty because they are spoiled and greedy and watch too much TV get exactly what they deserve, don't they? ;)

    This is a great setting, Holly, and I'm glad you chose to feature it this week! =) Thanks for joining Locus Focus again!