The main themes in “Charles” by Shirley Jackson are deception and identity, and the need for attention. Through these themes, Shirley Jackson’s message is for parents to pay attention to the changes that take place in their children, as they can sometimes hide dangerous things.
Deception and identity
The theme of deception and identity is illustrated by the clash between the real Laurie, the fictional Charles, and way Laurie’s parents see their son.
Laurie is a rebellious child, but his parents do not see him as such. Instead, Laurie’s mother sees him as an innocent baby, while his father cannot imagine his son being rude.
Need for attention
A reason why Laurie invents Charles probably is his need for attention. It is clear that he craves the attention of his parents, this being one of the reasons why he insists on talking about Charles each day when he comes home from kindergarten.