Charles Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

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In "Charles," why did Laurie create Charles?

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Laurie created Charles as a means of hiding his behavior at school from his parents. Specifically, Charles provided Laurie with an alter ego, one that could help him navigate the emotional transition from the domestic to the public sphere.

Adults often underestimate the difficulty of this transition for very young children. However, Jackson shines a light on this coming-of-age shift with humor and compassion.

In this story, Laurie imputes every willful infringement of the rules to Charles. Thus, Charles becomes a convenient scapegoat. Charles is also something else, however: he is the means of helping Laurie process his ambivalent emotions about growing up.

Essentially, Charles helps Laurie experience a catharsis of sorts. The result is nothing short of miraculous. By the third or fourth week of tumultuous classroom...

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