Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Charlotte” is a deceptively complex story, weaving several themes together so seamlessly that they seem to be various parts of the same tapestry. The narrator makes clear from the start of the story that the wrestlers are not just a flashy form of nouveau aristocracy: With their exotic names, strange powers, and alliances with the forces of good or evil, they are a kind of pantheon of mythological gods to the people of Charlotte. Just as the travails of Olympic gods such as Zeus, Apollo, Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena once served to reflect the internal struggles of mortals in ancient Greece, the modern gods of the Southeastern Wrestling Alliance—the Hidden Pagans, Paolo the Peruvian, the Sheik of the East and his Harem of Three, as well as Lord Poetry and Bob Noxious—play out moral conflicts for their followers.

On one level, the story states clearly that Lord Poetry and his allies represent “good” just as Bob Noxious and his allies represent “evil.” At the same time, good and evil as such are broadly construed in the story. The dichotomy between good and evil in “Charlotte” represents, also, the dichotomy between the soul and the body, the spiritual, angelic side of humans as opposed to the physical, bestial part of humans. Correspondingly, love is aligned with good, from the narrator’s perspective, just as lust is aligned with evil.

For the narrator, this struggle also incorporates the distinction between what is true,...

(The entire section is 431 words.)