“Charles” Short Story Lesson Plan

The day my administrator Mr. Laurie started at my school he renounced corduroy overalls with bibs and began wearing blue jeans with a belt; I watched him come in the first morning with a giant red pen and an observation form, seeing clearly that an era of my life was ended, my former sweet-voiced administrator replaced by a long-trousered, swaggering character who forgot to stop at the classroom next to mine and came directly to me. I needed a good lesson plan and I needed it now.

And I found it: Foreshadowing in “Charles” Lesson Plan

"Charles" Lesson Plans

“Charles” by Shirley Jackson tells about a parent whose in denial about how bad his kid behaves at school. Hits a little close to home, eh? These “Charles” lesson plans will help.

You’re obviously rejoicing after having found a lesson plan for “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. Just when you thought life couldn’t get any better, you also have a “Charles” summary and “Charles” analysis.

“Charles” Summary

The narrator has a son named Laurie (which may or may not explain the kid’s erratic behavior) who is off to kindergarten. Every day Laurie comes home telling stories about a belligerent, trouble-making student named Charles.

The narrator also mentions troubling signs about his child’s behavior, but credits that to Laurie just trying to be older. I know this is supposed to be a summary, but it’s time to add in commentary. I’m not a perfect parent, but Laurie’s parents make me look like Dr. Phil. Seriously? You’re gonna let Laurie get away with this behavior. And his parents aren’t very smart either. Like, it’s pretty obvious who Charles is.

Back to the summary—Laurie comes home every day with outlandish stories about Charles. It becomes a ritual: (1) Laurie comes home; (2) Laurie behaves in a disturbing way to his parents; (3) Laurie tells stories about Charles.

Laurie’s parents can’t wait to go to the PTA meeting and meet Charles’ parents. As it turns out, there is no Charles. Laurie’s got some ‘splainin to do!

Charles Analysis Ideas

An analysis of “Charles” produces the following discussion topics and observations:

  • Irony – I love how Laurie’s parents kind of look the other way at their own child’s inappropriate behavior and justify it with an “at least he’s not Charles” kind of attitude. Except, Laurie is Charles.
  • “Charles” Short Story Theme – Let’s talk about parental myopia. There’s a growing up, rebellious theme going on here, too.
  • Conflict – The parents worry about how the bad kids are influencing their son—an individual vs society conflict. As it turns out, Laurie’s duping his parents, making it a person vs. person conflict.
  • Characterization. A close examination of Charles/Laurie’s behavior might prove comical, assuming you’re not a kindergarten teacher, which you’re probably not.
  • Point of View. The narrator is Laurie’s Mom. I wonder how the teacher would tell the story? Or Charles? Or Laurie?

ELA Standards for “Charles” Short Story Lesson Plan

You have downloaded the lesson plan, right?

  1. 9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. 9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  3. L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word
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