In "Charles," what are some of the characteristics of Laurie? (verbs, adverbs and/or adjectives that indicate his actions and attitude)

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Shirley Jackson's use of descriptive language offers readers a vivid view of the character Laurie in the short story "Charles." The following descriptors offer insight into the character of the narrator's son.

Swaggering- Seems to define Laurie as a little older than he really is. Readers may picture a boy with a chimp on his shoulder by this description.

His "voice suddenly become raucous." Here, readers can picture a boy running into the house, unconcerned with anything which is going on. Therefore, this shows his self-centered aura of the typical kindergartner.

At lunch he spoke insolently to his father, spilled his baby sister’s milk, and remarked that his teacher said we were not to take the name of the Lord in vain.

If readers are to infer, the previous passage states that Laurie was the one who took the Lord's name in vain given she uses the pronoun "we." Also, the spilling of his sister's milk and speaking rudely to his father show is lack of concern for others.

“He sure did,” Laurie said. “Look up,” he said to his father.

“What?” his father said, looking up.

“Look down,” Laurie said. “Look at my thumb. Gee, you’re dumb.” He began to laugh insanely.

In the dialogue above, one can infer that Laurie is disrespectful of his parents. A child should not call a parent dumb. While seemingly harmless, when put together with all of the other indirect characterizations, Laurie is far from the "sweet-voiced nursery-school tot" he used to be.


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