Charlie Bucket is a hero merely by default. In the grand scheme of fairy tales and fantasy, he is not a true fairy tale hero. The only reason he is a hero in this novel, is because he is simply the least horrible of all the other children. Charlie is a very passive character, and encounters most of his fortune by luck alone. It is sheer luck that allows Charlie to find the dollar bill in the town. In any case, a true hero would not have indulged him or herself on chocolate with the dollar, but instead would have spent it on food for their family. Charlie though, in a moment of normal, human weakness, chooses to buy chocolate, and is lucky enough to find the fifth golden ticket in his second purchase. While it is true that Charlie is for the most part not greedy, selfish, and spoiled, and has very few if any bad traits, he doesn’t really act on his good traits. For example, when Augustus got sucked into the chocolate river pipe, a true fairy tale hero would have made some attempt to save him despite his negative character. Yet Charlie stood by passively, commenting that Augustus really “has stuck” (74). He has similar reactions to all of the other children’s misfortunes. While there is nothing particularly wrong about Charlie’s inaction, it is not heroic, for a hero would have gone into action.
In truth, Charlie’s good traits are set upon a heroic pedestal merely because all of the other children are spoiled and horrendously ill mannered, and Charlie is not. By comparison to the others, Charlie seems like an angel, when truthfully he is simply not bad rather than truly good. In fact, he was really lucky that those four children were the other ones to receive the golden tickets, for he may have had a tougher challenge if different, truly good children had won the tickets. Rather than win the competition, Charlie just does not lose. All the other children lost, and so Charlie “was the only one left,” and won by default of being the only candidate (142). In the end, it is luck that again wins out for Charlie. By not losing, he has gained an incredibly successful factory, which will sustain his family and provide him with a job, and never-ending chocolate. All this because Willy Wonka was “giving it to him” (151). Charlie never had to earn the factory; it was just given to him. A true hero would have had to work hard and pass some difficult test to gain such a reward, while Charlie only did not lose.