"Charles," like Shirley Jackson's most well-known short story, "The Lottery," has a few surprises and, certainly, a surprising ending. Within the story, however, Jackson has left a fair number of clues that she has created a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde story or, more precisely, a Jekyll-and-Jekyll story. Laurie and Charles, who appear as distinct characters throughout the story, seem to mirror each other so precisely that we begin to suspect, as Laurie's parents do not, that Charles is Laurie's alter ego.
Our first encounter with Laurie is, by itself, no clue to the story's ending, but it does foreshadow the behavior later attributed to Charles. After announcing his arrival from school with a "raucous shout," Laurie
spoke insolently to his father, spilled his baby sister's milk, and remarked that his teacher said that we were not to take the name of the Lord in vain.
Implicit in this description is that Laurie has taken the Lord's name in vain, but Laurie's parents assume, as they do with all...
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