Paper #4 At some point in most children's lives they create an imaginary friend. This imaginary friend is created so the child feels special attention that they may not get from the people around them. In the stories "Charles" by Shirley Jackson and "Doby's Gone" by Ann Petry, both Sue and Laurie lack attention from either their parents or peers. Laurie is led to create Charles because of his lack of attention from his parents. By creating Charles, he is indirectly getting attention without getting the blame for his actions. Sue, however, is affected by racism because her peers have problems accepting that she is black. That leads her to create "Doby" who will give her that special attention and accept her for who she is. Both Laurie and Sue create their imaginary friends to help them deal with a difficult circumstance, and their imaginary friend helps them through their trials.
Going to school is often and interesting and new experience for children. In this case, Laurie not only made school interesting for himself and his classmates, he had his parents wondering about a certain troubled child named Charles. Charles was not a real child though, he was only and imaginary friend that Laurie had created to draw attention from his parents. Laurie told his parents all of the bad things "Charles" did in school, but Laurie was actually the one doing the bad things. Charles was just used as the scapegoat so that the blame would be turned away from Laurie and put on somebody else (Jackson219-222).
When Laurie's parents showed him a lack of attention, he would make comments such as Shirkey 2 "Look down, look at my thumb, gee you're dumb!" (Jackson 220). His parents would not punish him or reprimand him for making rude comments. Since little comments would not get their attention, he decided to go to more extreme measures, thus "Charles" was created for that purpose. At home, whenever somebody would act in a rude way the comment "Looks like a Charles" (Jackson 221) would be made. Laurie was happy with any attention that he could get, whether it be good or bad.
Like Laurie, Sue also felt a lack of attention, but from her peers. At a young age Sue decided to create an imaginary friend named Doby. Doby helped Sue to cope with rejection from her peers like Charles helped Laurie deal with the lack of attention he got from his parents. Sue's mother accepted Doby and understood Sue needed an escape from harsh reality. Doby had his own place at the table and slept in a chair next to Sue's bed. Sue's mother showed her love, but that wouldn't make up for children her own age not accepting her (Petry 436-440).
When Sue started school she realized how much different she was from the other children. Comments such as, "Your legs are black" (Petry 438) and "Why look, she's black all over, looky, she's black all over" (Petry 438) were made to Sue. Doby was there for Sue to feel comfort from just like Charles was there to make Laurie feel like he was important. Both their imaginary friends were there as a support for them when they felt un-important. Eventually a child has to give up their imaginary friend though. Sue found that out On her way home from school one day. Children began to tease her by saying, "How do you comb that kind of hair?" (Petry 439) and "Does that black color wash off?" (Petry 439). They also began kicking her, hitting her and tearing at her clothes. She began to fight back and when the children finally began to leave, Doby was nowhere to be found- she had lost her only friend, so she thought. As Shirkey 3 she was standing there, she saw a girl named Daisy Bell leaning against a nearby tree. They began to walk together, then discovered Jimmie walking behind them. Quickly they became friends and they both walked her home that day. Through this rite of passage, Sue discovered that she did not need Doby anymore because she had finally found the acceptance she had been longing for (Petry 436-440).
Throughout life people will encounter trials, and throughout the trials they find a way to get through their problems. For both Sue and Laurie, their way of dealing with not being accepted was to create an imaginary friend that would somehow make them feel accepted. Both children felt good when they got the attention that they were looking for. For Laurie it was attention from his parents through Charles, and for Sue it was just acceptance from somebody her own age. The harsh reality of life can often be a hard thing for young children to grasp, especially when they can not totally comprehend the situation. They do not know how to see other people's points of view; they just see it how they think it is. Both of these stories show how the children grew through their imaginary friends and got the acceptance they needed.
Shirkey 4 Works Cited Jackson, Shirley. "Charles." Student's Book of College English. 9th edition. Ed. David Skwire and Harvey S. Wiener. New York: Longman, 2002. 219-222.
Petry, Ann. "Doby's Gone." Student's Book of College English. 9th edition. Ed. David Skwire and Harvey S. Wiener. New York: Longman, 2002. 436-440.