This incredible short story is about a little boy named Charlie Bradley, who isn’t like all the other kids his age. He was a very sick boy. Charlie had a loving mother who cared for him when he was sick. They seemed to have both one terrible thing in common, a bad chest. The Bradleys did not own a television set, so Charlie had to find different means of entertainment on his long sick days at home. He learned that if he kept quiet and still, the adults would have labeled him to be part of the furniture.
On his days home, Charlie received glimpses into the adult world of common topics like misery and scandals. These relations and encounters with the adults had drastically matured Charlie before his time. Later on that year, Mabel Bradley, his mother, was sent to the hospital because the condition of her chest had worsened. When Charlie’s mother got sick, his father took charge of the chores in the house. Charlie did not like his father very much, he described him as “…a desolate, lanky, drooping weed of a man who married late in his life but nevertheless had been easily domesticated.
”(3) His mother’s sickness and departure seriously afflicted his father. In spite of the fact that Charlie portrays of his father, he was a soft and sentimental man who loved his wife. Once he had the chance to dispose of Charlie, he went to visit his wife in the hospital. Although they are father and son, Charlie does not seem to appreciate the time he spends with him. At the end of the school year, Charlie was shipped off to his grandmother’s, Grandma Bradley. Grandma Bradley was a striking woman. She was six feet tall, strong, hefty and in terrific shape for he age.
Charlie’s grandmother loved to spend her free time in town playing bridge, canasta or whist. She did not care much for her health and smoked sixty, thin individually rolled cigarettes a day. Grandma Bradley lived on a farm in a two-story house, with two mountainous piles of manure in the abandoned barn out back. She took care of all the families problems. Charlie’s cousin Criselda was sent there when she became pregnant and his uncles Ernie and Ed stayed at their mother’s to hide from people. His grandmother is not very open-minded and says what’s on her mind at any time.
For example as soon as Charlie’s father’ maroon Meteor, car, pulled out of the drive way she stated; “I don’t chew my words twice. If you’re like any of the rest of them I’ve had here, you’ve been raised as wild as a goddamn Indian. Not one of my grandchildren have brought up to mind……… I don’t jaw and blow hot air to jaw and blow hot air. I belted your father when he needed it, and make no mistake I’ll belt you. Is that understood? ” (6). She acted like a military officer from the Second World War. Charlie did not like staying on the farm there was never anything fun to do.
The one thing Charlie enjoyed doing was, hiding in the corn patches spying on people and eating corn on the hottest days. On her farm she did not have any animals except for chickens. Grandma Bradley openly admitted she enjoyed slaughtering them when the time came. Stanley the rooster fascinated Charlie. Stanley was the only one of the birds that he felt pity for. He spent all his days chained to a stick by a piece of bailer twine looped around his leg. In captivity, poor Stanley’s comb drooped pathetically, watching all the other chickens running restlessly in field.
Mrs. Bradley kept him there to prevent Stanley from fertilizing the eggs and creating blood spots in the yolks. Charlie treated Stanley like a pet dog; he walked him around the barn until he started to get out of hand. Stanley was afraid of Charlie. As Charlie approached him, Stanley would start to tug severely on the twine rapped around his leg until he would fall and let Charlie stroke him. One day filled with anxiety Charlie approached Stanley. Calling his name out a numerous amount of times, “Here Stanley, Stanley,”(22) not knowing how to call a bird.
Charlie viciously kills Stanley and buries him the biggest of the two manure piles. On his stay at his grandmother’s, Charlie made a new friend Robert Thompson. He was Aunt Evelyn’s new boyfriend. Thompson was well educated and was studying to become a doctor. Grandma Bradley and Thompson did not get along at all; she refused to feed him and constantly threatened him. Charlie knew three things that made Robert Thompson a remarkable human being. He was going to write a book about a poet called Allen Ginsberg, who he actually met a year prior.
Second, he knew a tremendous amount about what made people tick and how to exploit it against them. Finally he was a Buddhist. Charlie learned many different meditation methods and ways of praying by Thompson. He also thought a few things about what makes people tick. At the end of the story the Ogden boys beat up Robert and Charlie saw the whole thing from the corn patches. Thompson left and returned with the police and asked Charlie to tell them what he saw, and replied “ I don’t know what he’s talking about… I didn’t see anybody.
” Charlie was finally in the game and was good at it. No longer a watcher he was a player but Robert Thompson could not appreciate that. This was an exciting and moving story, which shows us the different characteristics of a young boy. I found Charlie to be dramatic and inspiring in many ways. All the characters played a specific role in the development of the surprise ending. It was a great short story that got me thinking about everyday life and the dilemmas that we would face in the future.