In the story "Charles" by Shirley Jackson, what are some similarities between Laurie and Charles?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Shirley Jackson's short story "Charles," there are several similarities between Laurie and Charles.

When Laurie starts school, he returns home and he speaks "insolently." Similarly, Laurie shares information about a boy at school, Charles, who got in trouble that day because he was "fresh," (meaning "talking in a rude or impolite way"). It seems that Laurie is acting exactly the way Charles was acting at school.

Laurie tells a joke at his father's expense that ends with "Gee, you're dumb," and later calls his father "Pop, y’old dust mop." This is certainly fresh behavior.

When Laurie comes home the first day:

...the voice suddenly [becoming] raucous shouting, "Isn't anybody here?"

Laurie again reports about Charles:

Charles yelled so in school they sent a boy from first grade to tell the teacher she had to make Charles keep quiet...

And by the second week...

Charles yelled during story hour...

Both Laurie and Charles are capable of yelling in inappropriate situations.

Charles shows no respect for others: he kicks his teacher and later kicks the friend of the teacher that comes in to teach the children. Charles chooses, it seems, to defy countless rules set up at school. He throws chalk, and hits a little girl in the head with the see-saw and makes her bleed.

Laurie also seems to have become comfortable ignoring rules at home:

Laurie did a Charles when he filled his wagon full of mud and pulled it through the kitchen...

It can be no surprise that Charles is, in truth, Laurie—for the two have so much in common.

Sources:

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