Response Journal for "The Charmer" by Budge Wilson

Essay by strawberry_qteeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 2003

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Budge Wilson's "The Charmer" is a remarkable tale of loss, morality, and love. It is the story of how a young girl comes to realize that her devilishly handsome brother is nothing more than a charmer. It is set in a 1950's Halifax home where Zachary, the narrator's brother, repeatedly abuses his privileges and takes advantage of his family.

Zack seems to believe that his looks will help him escape any situation he may find himself in. He uses his sense of humour and charm to manipulate his family and friends. Zack has a way of making those around him feel special, and uses this quality to his advantage. His sister, Winnifred, washes his bike and fetches his baseball glove just to see his "flashing Colgate smile" and to be called Posie, the nickname he has chosen for her to let her know that she has measured up.

He is aware that the cake his mother has baked is not meant for him, yet he eats it anyway. He offers an insincere but convincing apology, and she starts to bake another cake. His family are his willing slaves, and it is only after the tragedy of Lizzie's death that they finally begin to see who Zachary really is.

Zack is the imperfect model son, but his family is too blinded by love to see his flaws. His fake apologies somehow manage to touch their hearts, and allow them to forgive all of his mistakes. Zachary steals money and alcohol from his parents, but manages to get away with it. He gambles and crashes the family car, but goes unpunished. He is "the only son, the only brother, the oldest child," but even more than that, he is as the title implies, the charmer.

Despite his good looks...