How does the author create humor in "Charles"?  

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The humor in this story is created from Laurie’s fanciful account of Charles’s behavior, and his parents’ clueless reaction to it.  It is also funny that Laurie’s mother and father are so judgmental of Charles’s mother, when Charles turns out to be Laurie.  The irony makes it funny.

Laurie’s behavior is funny in itself, or at least it would be if you were not his parents.  The fact that his parents do not see the connection between Laurie’s misbehavior and Charles adds humor too.  His parents are overwhelmed with the new baby and do not have time to pay attention to Laurie.

Laurie comes barging in, slamming the door.  He acts inappropriately from the moment he enters the story.

At lunch he spoke insolently to his father, spilled his baby sister’s milk, and remarked that his teacher said we were not to take the name of the Lord in vain.

Laurie’s mother worries that kindergarten is unsettling for Laurie because there are ruffians like Charles there.  She has no idea!  Humorously, the family incorporates Charles into their everyday lives. 

With the third week of kindergarten Charles was an institution in our family; the baby was being a Charles when she cried all afternoon; Laurie did a Charles when he filled his wagon full of mud and pulled it through the kitchen …

When Laurie’s mother misses the first meeting at school, there is a little hint at what is to come.  She finally goes to the school, and looks for someone that could be Charles’s mother, but none of the women look “haggard enough.”  She introduces herself to the teacher, who says they are all “interested in Laurie.”  I’ll bet!  Then the teacher tells her that Laurie had some trouble adjusting.  When Laurie’s mother asks about Charles, she finds out there is no Charles.  The author leaves it there, with no more commentary.  It’s self-explanatory.  That abrupt ending makes it more humorous.

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Charles

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