Grandpa Joe explains that once, an Indian prince named Prince Pondicherry asked Mr. Wonka to come to India and build a huge palace out of chocolate. Mr. Wonka did just that: the palace had 100 rooms and was made entirely of chocolate. When he completed the palace, Mr. Wonka warned Prince Pondicherry that the palace wouldn’t last long. Prince Pondicherry insisted that was nonsense—but not long after, on a hot day, the palace began to melt. The prince woke up from a nap swimming in a lake of chocolate.
This passage shows, first of all, that Mr. Wonka is capable of truly amazing things when it comes to candy-making—the chocolate palace, for instance, sounds incredibly luxurious and almost dreamlike. But Mr. Wonka also seems to suggest that chocolate is ephemeral—it won’t last forever, no matter how much a person (even a very powerful and wealthy person) believes they can control it.
Charlie stares at Grandpa Joe, transfixed. He asks if this is really true, or if Grandpa Joe is just kidding around, but his grandparents all insist that it’s true. Grandpa Joe leans in closer to tell Charlie another true thing about Mr. Wonka: nobody ever goes in, or comes out, of Wonka’s factory. All factories, he explains, have workers that go in and out every day. But nobody does that at Mr. Wonka’s factory. Charlie studies his grandparents’ faces. They’re smiling, but they also look dead serious. Charlie admits he’s never seen anyone enter or exit the factory and asks who works there. Grandpa Joe starts to tell Charlie who runs Mr. Wonka’s factory, but Mrs. Bucket insists that it’s time for bed.
Again, Charlie isn’t able to just enjoy the stories as entertainment—he feels compelled to confirm whether or not Grandpa Joe’s stories are true. But as Grandpa Joe pivots to talk about Mr. Wonka’s mysterious workers, it becomes clear that he can’t answer all of Charlie’s questions. And perhaps, the novel suggests, the answers aren’t as important as Charlie might have thought. Instead, it may be better to accept that the stories are entertaining and delightful—even if they’re not actually true.