What are some examples of foreshadowing in "Charles?"

3 Answers

kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

In "Charles," Jackson uses foreshadowing from the very beginning of the story. In the first paragraph, for instance, she hints at Laurie's bad behaviour in kindergarten by describing the change in his behaviour and the way he dresses:

"... my sweet-voiced nursery-school tot replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character who forgot to stop at the corner and wave good-bye to me."

Similarly, this idea is reinforced by Laurie's manner of entering the house after his return from kindergarten. Jackson says, for instance, that Laurie speaks with a "raucous" voice.

Finally, Jackson foreshadows the teacher's response to Laurie's behaviour in the third paragraph when describing lunch. The teacher tells Laurie to not take the lord's name in vain, for instance, and this hints at the many times that the teacher will tell Laurie off.

By using foreshadowing in this way, Jackson builds suspense in the story, making the reader want to know more about what happens to Laurie in this important stage of his life. 

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Foreshadowing is clues offered by the author to lead readers to define what is to come. Sometimes these clues are very obvious; other times, the clues are hidden. Readers must be able to "read between the lines" to find clues which are hidden.

In regards to Shirley Jackson's short story "Charles," many examples of foreshadowing can be found. Laurie's mother, from the very beginning, defines her son as changed (even as he walks out the door to his first day of kindergarten). Upon reentering, her son has changed even more. No longer the quiet child, he enters the house raucously shouting. Laurie's mother openly states that this is a new behavior.

As the first week of school progresses, Charles is disrespectful to his father, mean to his sibling, and loud. The behaviors seen by Laurie, while ignored by his parents, mirrors the behaviors seen in Charles. Engaged readers can pick up on the parallels laid by Jackson throughout the story.


User Comments