Golden Tickets symbolize the system of wealth, power, and privilege that guides Charlie’s world. Mr. Wonka hides five Golden Tickets in five Wonka candy bars and announces that the five children who find the Golden Tickets will have the opportunity to tour his factory. At first glance, this seems like a system based purely on luck and chance—anyone who buys a Wonka bar has a chance at finding a Golden Ticket. It’s possible for anyone to succeed if they happen to get lucky.
But as the first four children find their Golden Tickets, the novel reveals that the system is far more corrupt, as it favors people with wealth and privilege. Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee, for instance, find Golden Tickets because their families have the money to buy the children huge numbers of candy bars—thereby upping the chances that the children will find Golden Tickets. The circumstances surrounding the discovery of Veruca Salt’s Golden Ticket make this even clearer: Mr. Salt converts his peanut-shelling factories into candy bar-unwrapping factories until one of his employees finds a ticket for Veruca. This requires a great deal of money and influence, and it suggests that it’s easier to achieve success in Charlie’s world if a person has the money to buy it.
Nevertheless, it’s important that Charlie still manages to find a ticket, despite only being able to afford a total of four candy bars throughout his search. It’s possible, this suggests, for someone without wealth, power, or privilege to get lucky and find success—it’s just rare. With this, the novel makes it clear that power and privilege, on the whole, make it much easier to get ahead—though there’s always the chance that someone like Charlie, who lives in poverty, can also experience a stroke of luck and better their position in the world.
Golden Tickets Quotes in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“Wouldn’t it be something, Charlie, to open a bar of candy and see a Golden Ticket glistening inside!”
“It certainly would, Grandpa. But there isn’t a hope,” Charlie said sadly. “I only get one bar a year.”
“You never know darling,” said Grandma Georgina. “It’s your birthday next week. You have as much chance as anybody else.”
“I’m afraid that simply isn’t true,” said Grandpa George. “The kids who are going to find the Golden Tickets are the ones who can afford to buy candy bars every day. Our Charlie only gets one a year. There isn’t a hope.”
The picture showed a nine-year-old boy who was so enormously fat he looked as though he had been blown up with a powerful pump. Great flabby folds of fat bulged out from every part of his body, and his face was like a monstrous ball of dough with two small greedy curranty eyes peering out upon the world.
“Oh, it was terrible! My little Veruca got more and more upset each day, and every time I went home she would scream at me, ‘Where’s my Golden Ticket! I want my Golden Ticket!’ And she would lie there for hours on the floor, kicking and yelling in the most disturbing way. Well, sir, I just hated to see my little girl feeling unhappy like that, so I vowed I would keep up the search until I’d got her what she wanted. Then suddenly… on the evening of the fourth day, one of my women workers yelled, ‘I’ve got it! A Golden Ticket!’” […]
“She needs a real good spanking,” said Grandma Georgina.
“I don’t think the girl’s father played it quite fair, Grandpa, do you?” Charlie murmured.
“He spoils her,” Grandpa Joe said. “And no good can ever come from spoiling a child like that, Charlie, you mark my words.”
“‘And who’s she to criticize, anyway, because if you ask me, I’d say that her jaws are going up and down almost as much as mine are just from yelling at me every minute of the day.’”
“‘Now, Violet,’ Mrs. Beauregarde said from a far corner of the room where she was standing on the piano to avoid being trampled by the mob.
“‘All right, Mother, keep your hair on!’ Miss Beauregarde shouted.”
The tall bony old figure of Grandpa Joe could be seen standing quietly among them, and beside him, holding tightly on to his hand, was little Charlie Bucket himself.
All the children, except Charlie, had both their mothers and fathers with them, and it was a good thing that they had, otherwise the whole party might have gotten out of hand. They were so eager to get going that their parents were having to hold them back by force to prevent them from climbing over the gates.