Racial Innocence: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

One text I found that highlights racial innocence in a contemporary children’s text is Roald Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This book is about a young boy named Charlie Bucket who is poor and wins a golden ticket that brings him to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. At the factory he is accompanied by his Grandpa Joe, other children, and their adult companions. As this group of people travel through the factory they occasionally see the little workers called Oompa-Loompas. According to Corbin’s research article in the Berkeley McNair Research Journal, the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas has changed since the book has originally published in 1964 throughout the various revised texts and films (48). The Oompa-Loompas were originally seen as “black Pygymy people from Africa” (48). However they begin to change throughout the text and filmed texts as stated by Corbin:

Yet, in 1971 Mel Stuart’s film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory the Oompa-Loompas are portrayed as little people with orange skin and green hair. In Dahl’s 1973 revision he depicts the Oompa-Loompas as white. Finally, in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) Tim Burton portrays the Oompa-Loompas as brown skin people (48).

After reading Corbin’s research article about the historical and political contexts behind Dahl’s book I can understand why changes were made. Change in perspectives and events that occur affect how people view a text. The racial innocence does not just come from the fact that there was a need to change how the skin color Oompa-Loompas looked like, but the original fact that they became the workers in Willy Wonka’s factory. They were originally hired because his employees were stealing his recipes. As Corbin states, in her article the Oompa-Loompas were smuggled by Wonka from Africa (53). There is a clear connection that race is deeply rooted in the text.
One point I noticed is that when the Oompa-Loompas were brought to films, these “little people” suffer from dwarfism, a medical disorder which results in a shorter height. The book depicts Wonka as a person who gives these people jobs, but this does not hide the fact that they are always hidden within the factory. They are not seen in public and this implies a social discrimination towards them in the society of the book. The Oompa-Loompas do not have a voice in the text and are considered at Wonka’s employees.

Works Cited

Corbin, Chryl. “Deconstructing Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory: Race, Labor, and the Changing Depictions of the Oompa-Loompas.” The Berkeley McNair Research Journal 19 (2012): 47-63. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
Dahl, Roald, and Joseph Schindelman. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1964. Print.


Early American Post: Annie vs Peter Pan and Wendy

Birthday in Fairy-Land By: Thomas Wentworth Higginson


This story begins with Annie who is reading a book. She wished that she could see fairies and then she becomes drawn by the music the fairies are making. The fairies invite her to their land and she participates in a ceremony of crowning. The Queen of the fairies tells Annie that she must leave her home and family behind if she wanted to stay. Annie refuses and learns that leaving her home and family behind would never bring her happiness. At the end Annie realizes it was all a dream and cries for her mother.


When I read this story I couldn’t help but think about Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up and instead lived in Neverland among the fairies, young boys, and other creatures. Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s story tries to tell us that happiness comes at a cost of something else. Annie might like the fairies and their world, but for her to achieve true happiness she could never do so if she were to give up her family and home. However, in Peter Pan’s case he had run away from his home and chose to live in Neverland where he would never grow up. In a way they Annie and Peter Pan represent two different choices where one chose to go back home and one chose to stay.

Wendy, the girl who Peter Pan brings to Neverland is similar to Annie because she chose to go home to her family and grow up. When Wendy has grown up and has a child named Jane she tells her that out of all the things she liked she had chosen her home:

“And then he flew us all away to the Neverland and the fairies and the pirates and the redskins and the mermaids’ lagoon, and the home under the ground, and the little house.”

“Yes! which did you like best of all?”

“I think I liked the home under the ground best of all.” (Barrie, Chapter 17).

When you compare this to how Annie thinks of home and her family you can see the similarity between both girls. When Annie thinks about having to leave her family for Fairy Land, she knows that she would not truly be happy there: “ ‘And shall I never, never, see the darlings again?’ though she; ‘and have I agreed to stay here for ever, and let them look for me in vain, and at last mourn for me as lost? Oh! How foolish and wicked I was to think, that any thing here could give me any pleasure, without having them with me!’ ” (Higginson, Page 20-21).


Barrie, James. “Peter Pan.” Gutenburg. 25 June 2008. Web. 18 Oct 2015. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16/16-h/16-h.htm#link2HCH0003>.

Higginson, Thomas. “Birthday in Fairy-Land.” Boston Literary History. 1850. Web. 18 Oct 2015. <http://www.bostonliteraryhistory.com/chapter-4/thomas-wentworth-higginson-1823-1911-             birthday-fairy-land-story-children-boston-wm-crosby>.


Mess Post D: Right vs. Wrong

I decided to choose the right and wrong binary. I found the scene where Alice comes across the Duchess and the baby interesting. In this situation right and wrong is more about ethics and whether it is right to keep a baby with its mother even if she is raising it in a dangerous environment. Alice takes away the baby thinking that it is the right thing to do: “‘If I don’t take this child away with me,” thought Alice, “they’re sure to kill it in a day or two: wouldn’t it be murder to leave it behind?’” (Carroll, Page 71).

Alice is actually stealing the baby away assuming that the baby would die in the Duchess’s home. Theft is wrong however you try to explain it even if it is for a good cause. There are alternative solutions.
This situation blurs between what is right and wrong to do. There is a justification for Alice to have not taken away the baby and just went on her own way in the following text:
“Oh, please mind what you’re doing!” cried Alice, jumping up and down in an agony of terror. “Oh, there goes his precious nose”; as an unusually large saucepan flew close by it, and very nearly carried it off.
“If everybody minded their own business,” the Duchess said in a hoarse growl, “the world would go round a deal faster than it does.” (Carroll, Page 70).
Alice essentially walks right in and tells the Duchess what to do in her own home. The question that then appears is whether Alice has the right to question the Duchess’s authority in her own home. Who is Alice to tell the Duchess what to do and to take the baby away from the mother? The Duchess’s words tell us situations would be much simpler if people paid attention to what they do. However, I think Alice complicates the situation by taking away the baby and tries to impose her own view.

This text tells us that what we may think is right is not always the case when seen from a different lens. You can see Alice as an outsider who invades the Duchess’s home and steals the baby or Alice as someone who is trying to bring the baby to a safer place. Either way Alice is indeed the third party who involved herself with the Duchess.
Lewis, Carroll. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Gutenburg. 19 May 2009. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.


Child as a Site of Desire: The Boy Who Lived

The Boy Who Lived

‘I’ve come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They’re the only family he has left now.’
‘You don’t mean – you can’t mean the people who live here?’ cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. ‘Dumbledore – you can’t. I’ve been watching them all day. You couldn’t find two people who are less like us. And they’ve got this son – I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!’
‘It’s the best place for him,’ said Dumbledore firmly. ‘His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he’s older. I’ve written them a letter.’
‘A letter?’ repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. ‘Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day in the future – there will be books written about Harry –- every child in our world will know his name!’
‘Exactly,’ said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. ‘It would be enough to turn any boy’s head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won’t even remember! Can’t you see how much better off he’ll be, growing up away from all that until he’s ready to take it?’ (Rowling, 15-16)

This conversation between Professor McGonagall and Dumbledore illustrates a need to shield a child from a potentially harmful environment to grow up in and the idea that adults knows what is best for a child. Ironically the very place that Dumbledore believes is best for Harry is where he grows up feeling isolated from his peers and being treated poorly at home. In this text the author indicates that raising a child who attracts so much attention would be too much for a child to handle.

Harry Potter is a child who represents someone who can beat the odds against him. Rowling invokes the desire of adults to feel limitless and the numerous possibilities. A child may be able to think of numerous ways to do one thing, but an adult becomes fixated on a few ways. Harry becomes the child who eventually has to make his own choices in life instead having them forced on him. In this case Harry has no choice in where he lives. Adults share this commonality with Harry because many times people are given choices that they may or may not freely choose.

Rowling, J. K. “The Boy Who Lived.” Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 2004. 15-16. Print.


How to Read Children’s Literature: “The Ant and the Grasshopper”

“The Ant and the Grasshopper”

By: Joseph Jacobs


What a Reader Is Asked to Know

About Life

  • What a grasshopper is, what an ant is, what winter is, what summer is, what corn is, what it means to store food, what it means to prepare ahead of time, what “toiling and moiling” means, why food is necessary
  • How unlikely it is for a grasshopper and an ant to talk like humans

About Language

  • Why words such as “Ant” and “Grasshopper” might be capitalized
  • How to determine who is speaking in a text
  • How to read in terms of understanding the punctuation and grammar

About Literature

  • Reading about the actions of two different insects can teach a lesson that applies to everyday life in an entertaining way
  • What a fable teaches readers at the end of a story

What a Reader Is Asked to Do

  • Understand that this is a short story
  • Understand that this is a fable where at the end the characters and the readers learn a lesson


Who is the implied reader of the text? What reader might know these things? What reader might be moved to do what is asked of them to do?

The implied readers of this text are children. The language used in “The Ant and The Grasshopper” is written in a story format that is short and simple. By using insects instead of humans in the fable this story becomes a more entertaining story for children. In the story the Ant works hard to store away food in the summer to prepare for the winter while the Grasshopper passes its time leisurely because there is plenty of food at the time. While fables are written in such a way for children to understand, this fable can easily have adults as the implied readers. If fables are written for children, then it is the adults that create this lesson that “it is best to prepare for the days of necessity” (Jacobs). This lesson is a universal idea that children and adults can learn from. Adults input this idea through a story to teach children.
Jacobs, Joseph. “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” The Ant and the Grasshopper. Aesop. 1909-14. Fables. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14, 27 Mar. 2001. Web. 7 Sept. 2015. <http://www.bartleby.com/17/1/36.html>.


Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Lio, Ada. “Little Miss Muffet.” About.com Poetry. 1805. Web. 1 Sept. 2015. <http://poetry.about.com/od/poems/l/bllittlemissmuffet.htm>.