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"Charles" Short Story Analysis
Transcript of "Charles" Short Story Analysis
The Characters of
Short Story Analysis
"Charles" by Shirley Jackson
The Elements of this Short Story...
The Atmosphere: (Part 2)
The Setting: (Part 1)
The setting of the story is not very specific but the majority of the story takes place in Laurie's house, and a minority of it takes place in Laurie's kindergarten class. This short story goes on for about a span of 4 weeks. The place where Laurie's family lives is not specified but one can guess that with the names of the characters and social customs like spanking are more widely found in Western countries; such as the U.S, Canada, and the U.K. Similarly, hitting a child with a ruler is found more commonly in Eastern countries. When looking at the social customs of the story such as spanking a child and washing a child's mouth when they have said something inappropriate; one can make the educated guess that the story takes place in the 1950's or a couple years later or after, when spanking a child was allowed in school.
: A conclusion drawn from the setting is that the author wrote the story in this specific time period to show the connections between that time and our time. Although the story is dated back then, we can still make connections to it to our time as well. Where we still have disobedient children that hide their real thoughts and feelings from their parents. However there are differences like hitting children, and being overly religious with them. Essentially the setting tells us, although our times have changed some of our thoughts and nature stays the same.
The Plot of
The short story "Charles" written by Shirley Jackson; starts off with the introduction of a boy named Laurie who just freshly started kindergarten. At the beginning of the story we get to read about the behaviour change in Laurie; who his mother states was her "sweet-voiced nursery-school tot replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character." We also get introduced to "Charles" who is a mischievous child that is very naughty and disobedient.
In the beginning of the story, we get the exposition. First the readers get a brief description of the main character, Laurie. We are told that Laurie is a sweet hearted boy who is about to start kindergarten. The rising action in the story is when, Laurie comes home to tell his parents about a boy named Charles and the trouble he has caused each day. The conflict occurs after the amount of times Laurie parents have heard about Charles's bad behaviour by there son Laurie. Charles is punished daily for either hitting or kicking the teachers or injuring his fellow classmates. The parents worry that the boy Charles will have a bad influence on Laurie. So the parents decide to confront the Kindergarten teacher. The climax occurs at the end of the story along with the resolution. As Laurie parents confront the Kindergarten teacher, they ask whether the boy 'Charles' is a handful. The teacher replies, saying that there was no 'Charles' in the Kindergarten class. Which leads to the conclusion of the short story, and leaves readers to realize that Laurie was in fact the one who created so much trouble. I believe that Laurie was afraid to tell his parents what he really did at school. So Laurie came up with 'Charles' to take his place in all his acts of misbehavior.
The Conflict in "Charles"
The conflict in the story is that Laurie is describing a kid who does horrible things at school and Laurie comes home everyday from school explaining what "Charles"did today, when all along he was doing all of those things, and he was blaming "Charles" for his naughtiness.
The Theme of
The Point of View in
The Point of View
Laurie might have a split personality or an alter ego where his true identity shows. Hints of Laurie's true identity show when Laurie suddenly misbehaves with his dad.
Not everybody's true identity shows right away; sometimes it is deeply hidden and it needs to be noticed.
Laurie probably has a bruised ego where his name is sorta girly, and he makes up for it by acting manly and destructive. He also has given himself the name of Charles to represent his hidden desire to be more manly.
Ignorance can lead to your own destruction:
Parents need to stop being ignorant when their child are growing up because these are the times that they start to change. If parents don't notice the change in behaviour of their kids they are going to let them slip away. Similar to "Charles" Laurie's mother was being ignorant because she assumed that her child was the sweet boy he was before, and didn't notice the behaviour change. She also didn't see the connection between Laurie and Charles.
This story is unique when it comes to the climax, because unlike most stories, the climax happened at the end of the story, and the falling action and resolution all happened at once with the climax. The climax in this story occured when Laurie's mother went up to Laurie's teacher making light talk about Laurie only to get to ask about Charles. When asked about Laurie, Laurie's teacher stated "He had a little trouble adjusting, the first week or so, but now he’s a fine little helper. With occasional lapses, of course." Laurie's mother had remarked that he might have gotten influenced from Charles, and Laurie's teacher made a point in saying that this kindergarten had no one named Charles!
He is static because he never changes his actions throughout the story. Charles is a very loud, rude, self-absorbed and mischievous young boy. Although he just started kindergarten, he seems a little bent on leaving it soon. Most children Laurie's age believe the word revolves around them. Laurie is no different and like some young children he likes to talk about himself. He just has a very sneaky way of doing so through Charles.
Laurie's father is unobservant and ineffectual throughout this short story so he is flat as well. Laurie's mother is the one who does most of the interacting and reacting with Laurie as he comes home from kindergarten each day. What makes Laurie's father ineffectual is that he does nothing when his kindergartner is dismissive and insulting. He might as well not even be there, if all he is going to do is be the butt of his son's immature little jokes. This is obviously not teaching his son anything positive.
She a very clueless and superiority mother so she is flat. She shows her cluelessness through her thoughts and words every time she refuses to see what the reader knows all along—that Charles doesn’t exist and that her son Laurie really is Charles. She is also superiority, in not wanting to believe “Charles” is really her son. Once again the author uses indirect methods of characterization through the mother’s actions. She can’t wait to meet Charles’ mother. Once she’s at the meeting, Laurie’s mother “sat restlessly…” and couldn’t believe it when “No one stood up in the meeting and apologized for the way her son had been acting.” The mother’s superior attitude wants to see the worst in someone else, even though she would never want it for herself.
Laurie is round because he is not only a fictional character, but a type of person in the real world. Laurie is a young boy just starting kindergarten. His behavior at home is very similar to Charles' behavior at school. Charles is loud, disrespectful, and hard to manage. As readers finish the text, they (as well as Laurie's mother) come to realize that Laurie is Charles. Essentially, Laurie's behaviors at home are so similar to Charles' that engaged readers are sure to pick up on the similarities.
Laurie's kindergarten teacher is a static character because what we read of her in the beginning stays the same of her to the end. We know she is the one who tries to reform "Charles" and is also the main target of "Charles". The character of Laurie's teacher isn't mentioned too often but she is an important character because she leads the story to its climax. She is the character who reveals the truth about "Charles" to Laurie's mother.
Analysis Of Conflict:
I think that Laurie is hiding what he does because he doesn't feel secure about himself, and is afraid that he might get in trouble. So he might have used "Charles" name, to get a preview of how his parents would react if he tells them the truth.
Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution:
The rising action occurs in the story when Charles' influence is getting to Laurie - or as Laurie's mother assumes - and she starts fearing that Laurie's being influenced by Charles. Charles' usual disobedient behaviour continues with a couple lapses of nice and obedient behaviour. Most of the story is taken up by the rising action, all up till the climax.
The atmosphere of the story or the mood or feeling that pervades the story; is a light and humorous mood. While reading the story the reader feels enlightened by the story because it revolves around a young boy and his kindergarten experience. The reason why the reader might find the story fun to read because we can all relate to it. The story is about a mischievous troublemaker that creates trouble in his kindergarten class, but uses a different identity of himself in front of his parents. Many people relate to this, because they have once created mischief in class and lied about it to their parents. The reader understands what the protagonist is going through and so they can thoroughly enjoy this short story. This short story does in fact have a couple tense and anticipating moments, when the reader is at the edge of their seat anticipating on what comes next.
There are moments of Irony in the story when:
Laurie's Mother is so anxious to see Charles' mother because she is the type of person who enjoys seeing someone's destruction. She'd enjoy meeting her and asking her what has gone wrong in her child; but ironically, she is the mother of Charles. Laurie in reality is Charles.
An example of verbal irony is when Laurie used to describe the horrible things Charles used to do when really he implied it to himself. He was stating all the actions he did under a different name.
This humorous story demonstrates how even individuals living under the same roof may not fully realize the extent of each other's true behaviors or the nature of each other's true identities. The narrator is very unaware of her own son's bad behavior in school and is too willing to believe his descriptions of some other misbehaving child. Even though her own son's behavior changes when he enters kindergarten, she chalks this up to Charles' influence. "Charles" demonstrates how unaware people may be of each other's inner motivations and desires or at least how purposefully blind people choose to be of these motivations and desires (such as when they concern negative information about one’s children).
The story "Charles" by Shirley Jackson; was written in a first person's point of view. The narrator of the story is Laurie's mother.
Point of view Analysis.
The author probably wrote the short story in Laurie's mothers point of view because she wanted to show Laurie through someone who is very close to him. She might have also wanted to show the ignorance of the mother in not identifying her own son.
The text used pronouns such as me, my, I, etc e.g. "On Saturday
husband," or "
husband came to the door with
that evening as
set out for the P.T.A. meeting."
We understood and followed what Laurie's mother had to say through her expressions, emotions, feelings, actions, thoughts, and, words
e.g. "The day my son Laurie started kindergarten he renounced corduroy overalls with bibs and began wearing blue jeans with a belt;"
In this Laurie's mother is trying to tell us how much his little Laurie grew up by showing the emotion of love and care.
Tone & Symbols:
Tone: (Tone is the author's attitude towards the subject.)
The tone of this story seems comedic and light, and it seems that the author sheds light on an important topic in a comedic way. The author seems positive about the story although he does express the difficulties the narrator faces with her child, but it doesn't sound too serious; probably because they are talking about a kindergarten kid.
There are many examples of symbolism in the story. The author shows the true message of how ignorance is your choice to ruin yourself through a 4-year-old boy. They also show how wild kids imaginations are.
The short story written by Shirley Jackson shows what the true meaning of "identity" is. "Charles" subtly shows that not everybody's identity is written on their heads, but rather they have to be noticed. In this short story Laurie's mother and father fail to notice their own son's identity because they were too caught up in the behaviour of Charles. The author probably chose to tell this story in this way to show how even the people that live under the same roof can be deceived by their own.