In "Charles," who is Laurie's mother looking for at the P.T.A meeting?

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

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Shirley Jackson's short story "Charles," like many of her short stories, offers readers a surprising and unexpected ending. In the opening of the story, Laurie's mother details how her son (Laurie) changes rapidly, even as he walks out the door on his way to kindergarten. Over the course of the story, Laurie states how one child's (Charles) behavior has sparked the interest of the other children in his class.

Charles is rambunctious, inappropriate, and disrespectful. Everyday, Laurie comes home to tell his mother about the newest "Charles" news. Charles, to Laurie's mother, seems to be quite a spectacle.

Laurie's mother, given everything she has heard about Charles, is excited to go to the PTA meeting at the school. She wants to see what the mother of Charles looks like. As she begins to question Laurie's teacher about Charles, the teacher tells her that she does not have any students named Charles in her class. 

Readers, and Laurie's mother, immediately come to realize what has happened--Laurie is Charles. Ironically, Laurie's mother already knows Charles"'mother very well. She is Charles' mother.


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