Society has been distorted greatly in today’s world. The concept of a secular state has been out casted to the deepest realms of humanity. Few want to get along, and kids like Laurie (from the short story “Charles” by Shirley Jackson) have grown up too quick and are often influenced by many things like friends, media, and family. They become rude, arrogant, and foul mouthed. The alarming manner in which Laurie’s personality has been influenced and changed for the worse as he grew up paved the way of his traits: deceptive, insolent, unrelenting, and aggressive. The traits he embodied truly exhibited that he is not what a person would want to be like.
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In the short story, Laurie was originally illustrated as a stereotypically innocent, normal child, “â€¦my sweet-voiced nursery-school totâ€¦” (Jackson, 1) but later was revealed to be a deceptive individual. While creating chaos at school daily, he tricked his parents into thinking that someone named “Charles” was the cause. For instance, Laurie told his mother that Charles hit the teacher on the first day, despite the fact that it was him. “He grinned enormously and said, “Today Charles hit the teacher.””(Jackson 1). Also, seeing as the point of view is from the mother’s perspective, she does not seem to show any sign of suspicion towards her son, “On Saturday I remarked to my husband, “Do you think Kindergarten is too unsettling for Laurie?.. this Charles boy seems likeâ€¦bad influence.”” (Jackson 1) and it verifies the level of cunning in Laurie and his ability to use it. The lies that Laurie was able to conceal showed he was a master at trickery and could manipulate anyone at ease.
Laurie’s insolent attitude was very pronounced and he demonstrated it often within the story. An example of his impudent demeanor was his first day after school and his mother saw that “â€¦ he spoke insolently to his father, spilled his baby sister’s milkâ€¦” (Jackson 1). Judging from the quote it can be told that he was an impolite person. Another example was when he addressed his father rudely. “â€¦Gee, you’re dumb.” He began to laugh insanely.” (Jackson 1.)This shows that he does not respect the authority his dad holds, and neither does he respect his teacher’s. In addition, not only was Laurie just rude to his parents; he seemed to boast it to the school. In class, “Charlesâ€¦told a little girl to say a word…the teacher washed her mouth out with soap and Charles laughed.” (Jackson 2). This proves his audacious and ill-mannered behavior; using someone else to entertain himself. The negative way in which Laurie treated others held evidence that he was very disrespectful and did not seem to care about their feelings towards his actions.
Nothing is worse than an unrelenting troublemaker like Laurie. Every day he wouldn’t stop with the disturbances he caused and none of the punishments given to him seemed to hinder his efforts. For example, every day Laurie would cause trouble and it seemed to worsen as each week passed. “Thursday Charles had to stand in a cornerâ€¦Friday was deprived of the black boardâ€¦.he threw chalkâ€¦” (Jackson 1). An additional case was when he said the foul word he told the girl to say a few days before. “â€¦Charles abandoned the little girl and said the evil word himself three or four times, getting his mouth washed out with soap each time. He also threw chalk.” (Jackson 2)This occasion proved that he already knew the consequence, but said the word anyway so as to test the limits of the teacher. Because of his remorseless mind-set, he is the kind of person that likes to play with people’s patience too much. His ruthless way of looking at things demonstrates he is unrelenting and cruel.
The aggressiveness that Laurie displayed affected everyone around him. An instance of this was on the second day of school. The first case of bodily harm was reported. “Today Charles hit the teacher.” (Jackson 1). The second case was on the third day, “Charles bounced a see-saw on the head of a little girl and made her bleedâ€¦” (Jackson 1). The third case was on the week after; Tuesday. “He kicked the teachers friendâ€¦ told Charles to touch his toesâ€¦ and Charles kicked him.” (Jackson 2). All the acts of hostility signify that Laurie is a violent person and delights in witnessing the pain of others, and caused his ferociousness to spread like a forest fire from the classroom to the playground. Also, he forced everyone to stay back after school. “Charles had to stay after school todayâ€¦ everyone stayed with him.” These few examples show how bullying involves everyone, and obviously Laurie hadn’t anticipated he’d be busted in the end. Violence was Laurie’s answer in the story, but on the contrary it only solved his problems and it hurt everyone else; proving that he is hostile and acts of antagonism only makes things worse.
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As the story ended before Laurie’s mom could react to the fact that Laurie was Charles, it is uncertain if he kept on bullying people. The two-faced Laurie was a deceptive, insolent, unrelenting, and aggressive person; the notion of peace inexistent in his mind. This novel goes to show that looks are in fact deceiving. Laurie played his parents and teacher out like cards, but ultimately got what he deserved. The erratic behavior he displayed and the way he grew up while influenced by various factors formed him into the exact opposite of the ideal person.
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