Why Charles is an intersting person in "Charles" short story by Shirley Jackson?

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estoverl's profile pic

estoverl | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Shirley Jackson's "Charles" was originally published in a magazine and has since often been included in student anthologies. It is a short children's story told by a narrator about a boy, Laurie, and the troublesome boy, Charles, that he meets on his first day of kindergarten. 

As the story unfolds, Laurie comes home each day describing disruptive behaviors that Charles displays each day. At home, the Charles stories become part of the household. Whenever someone trips or has similar troubles, they are held up in comparison to Charles. Eventually Charles does have some good days but then returns to his poor behaviors. 

However, though interesting, these facts are not the reasons that Charles is so very interesting. Eventually Laurie's mother goes to school for a meeting hoping to meet the mother of the infamous Charles. Once there, she discovers from Laurie's teacher that there is no Charles on the roster and that Laurie has been having some trouble at school. It seems in fact that Laurie and Charles are one in the same person. That is why Charles is such an interesting person. 

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plinn2010's profile pic

plinn2010 | In Training Educator

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Charles is an interesting person because his behavior in class is disruptive, rude, and so unlike the other students in class. Figuring out how to control his outbursts makes him enigmatic and a focal point, for although he is not allowed to play with the other children at one point, they still seek him out and do as he asks.

Charles could also be considered an interesting person in that he is Laurie’s creation, an imaginary person contrived to relate Laurie’s experiences at school. Although his parents try to correct Laurie’s behavior at home, the only connection they can make between Laurie and Charles is that Charles is a bad influence on their son.

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