As seen in "Charles," describe Laurie's behavior at home and define how is it similar to Charles' behavior at school?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shirley Jackson, in her short story "Charles," details the story of a little boy just starting school. The similarities between his behavior and Charles' behavior at home are very similar (which allows the engaged reader to realize, far before the end, that Laurie is Charles).

Multiple times in the text, Laurie's behaviors are very questionable. On his first day of kindergarten, Laurie leaves the house already a different person. Laurie's mother describes to readers the immediate difference between her pre-kindergarten boy and the boy leaving for school.

My sweet-voiced nursery-school tot replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character who forgot to stop at the corner.

Already, her son has changed. This changes becomes even more apparent when Laurie returns home. The normally quiet (assumptive based upon the mother's tone) boy is now "raucous" and shouting. This behavioral change is denoted by the use of the word "suddenly." It is as if Laurie's behaviors immediately changed the moment he began his first day of school.

As the week went on, Laurie spoke "insolently" to his father, had used the Lord's name in vain, and been destructive. (These are all behaviors the reader can assume have come with his attending school.)

Laurie's behavior at home is very similar to Charles' behavior at school. Charles is loud, disrespectful, and hard to manage. As readers finish the text, they (as well as Laurie's mother) come to realize that Laurie is Charles. Essentially, Laurie's behaviors at home are so similar to Charles' that engaged readers are sure to pick up on the similarities.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Laurie's behavior mirrors that of Charles in a number of ways. On his first day, for example, Laurie speaks to his father "coldly" when he tells him that he did not "learn nothing" at school. This is comparable to Charles's "fresh" attitude toward the kindergarten teacher.

Similarly, on the second day of school, Charles get in trouble for hitting the teacher while, at home, Laurie misbehaves by calling his father "dumb."

On the following Monday, Laurie tells his parents that Charles had to stay behind after school because he yelled so loudly that it disturbed another class. Similarly, at home, Laurie insults his father again. This time, he calls him an "old dust mop."

Laurie's mother and father believe that Charles's bad behavior is unsettling their son and causing him to misbehave at home. In reality, Laurie and Charles are the same person, but it is not until a meeting with his teacher that this fact becomes apparent.