According to the narrator, how did Laurie change when he started kindergarten?

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At the beginning of the story, Laurie's mother mentions that the day her son attended his first day of kindergarten was the day he changed from being her sweet-voiced tot to a confident, swaggering little boy. As Laurie's mother sends her son off to school, he renounces his corduroy overalls...

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At the beginning of the story, Laurie's mother mentions that the day her son attended his first day of kindergarten was the day he changed from being her sweet-voiced tot to a confident, swaggering little boy. As Laurie's mother sends her son off to school, he renounces his corduroy overalls with bibs in favor of wearing blue jeans with a belt.

In addition to his appearance and clothing, Laurie's character also changes. As he heads to school with the older neighbor girl, Laurie forgets to turn around at the corner and wave goodbye to his mother.

Laurie's mother also mentions that he came home the same way, by slamming open the front door and raising his voice. During dinner, Laurie speaks insolently to his father, takes a cookie without permission, and excuses himself from the table. As the story progresses, Laurie becomes increasingly disrespectful to his parents and refuses to comply with their rules.

Overall, Laurie changes into an independent, confident little boy who behaves disrespectfully and acts arrogantly once he starts kindergarten, which is a dramatic change from his former sweet-voiced, innocent personality.

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According to Laurie's mother, the very day he started kindergarten he began to behave differently, older. According to her, that day, he decided not to wear younger styles of clothing like overalls but wanted to instead wear blue jeans and a belt. Laurie no longer clung to her with sweet and loving words. He instead "swaggered" off down the sidewalk without even telling her good-bye. To his mom, he seemed to no longer be a nursery school boy already. 

His change was not limited to his departure to school for when he returned home, he was very much the same character as when he left. Laurie is described as a very self-confident boy who tests his limits by speaking rather disrespectfully to his parents. At lunch break from school, he came in the door yelling for his parents. According to his mother's words, an era was over and she no longer had a little boy. 

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Shirley Jackson's narrator in "Charles" is apparently a deluded mother. Her thinking that her child has transformed on the day he goes off to school, before ever entering the kindergarten classroom, is unfounded at best.

According to the mother, who narrates, on the first day of school, her "sweet-voiced" tot suddenly transform into a "long-trousered, swaggering character" who walks with an older girl and forgets to turn and wave goodbye to his mother. Then, in the afternoon, he returns and announces his arrival by flinging open the front door. Curiously, the mother never scolds her son when he exhibits inappropriate behavior. The father makes a feeble attempt at disciplining Laurie but does not follow through with sufficient parental effort when the boy ignores him. For instance, after Laurie tells his parents that a boy named Charles was rude at school, and the teacher spanked him and ordered him to stand in a corner, he takes a cookie and walks off despite the fact that his father is telling him to stay put.

Ironically, the mother narrates that "Charles was an institution in our family." She adds, "Laurie did a Charles when he filled his wagon full of mud and pulled it through the kitchen." The husband is equally obtuse as he comments about something Laurie has done, describing it with the words "[L]ooks like Charles."

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When Shirley Jackson's "Charles" begins, the narrator's son Laurie is "my sweet-voiced nursery-school tot" (Jackson 1).  Even as he turns the corner on his way to school, he begins his transformation to a "swaggering character" (1).  From a sweet and compliant child, he morphs into a noisy and rude character who slams the door, speaks to his father "insolently" (1) and loses his ability to speak proper English, now saying "I didn't learn nothing" (1).

Laurie begins to come home with stories of Charles, a classmate he says gets in trouble all the time. He has hit the teacher, yells during story time, injures a little girl on the playground, and makes so much noise that he disrupts other classes. After some time passes, Laurie reports Charles has settled down and is rewarded for better behavior. He has a few lapses, and then seems to settle in well. 

After weeks of Laurie reporting on Charles's bad behavior to his parents, his mother, who has missed the parent-teacher conference, attends the PTA meeting, hoping to hear about Charles. This is when she learns from Laurie's teacher that there is no Charles in Laurie's class. She also learns Laurie had a difficult time adjusting to school, but seems to be doing better now. 

Laurie's transformation in school is from sweet toddler to his new alter ego, Charles. Charles is the vehicle by which Laurie reports to his parents his own bad behavior, or at the very least, behavior he wished to engage in while in school. Once he acclimates to school, Laurie reports Charles is behaving better, too. School is truly a transformational process, but it is often a bumpy road!

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