Which character do you sympathize with (laugh at?) most in "Charles"?
This is a personal question about the short story that you must answer yourself based on your reaction to the story. For me, I laugh at the mother the most. As a teacher, this mother is easily recognized as what we teachers call a "Helicopter Parent" - a parent that "hovers" over her child, like a helicopter. Most annoying. This is why when I first read this short story, I immediately suspected that Charles and Laurie were one and the same and that the "helicopter mother" was in denial. This is what makes the story so humorous. Sometimes parents are blind to the faults of their children, and this mother is guilty of this. That is why it takes her until the end of the story to figure out that Laurie is Charles and most of his behavior is her fault!
For me, the mother (also the narrator) is the character I laugh at and sympathize with the most as a teacher (as explained above) but also as a mother. It took me until my kids were in middle school to figure out that my wonderful, well-behaved son and daughter actually exaggerated things that happened at school! What a shock! As a teacher, I always tell parents that I promise not to believe everything I hear about them if they promise not to believe everything they hear about me. So I can laugh and sympathize most with the mother.
How about you?