Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The "Let's Talk Behind Charlotte's Back" Thread

Thoroughly Random Michelle wrote:

Can we have a thread somewhere to discuss Charlotte? Because I have all kinds of questions.

Sure Michelle, that's a fine idea. And here it is. I'll take a stab at answering your first questions here and then everyone else who's participating can continue in the comments. Also, if anyone has other questions, through them out there for consideration. I'll keep a link up on the sidebar so this will be easy to find if it continues while we're all writing.

1)Where are Charlotte's parents from/what did they do?

No one has said. If you'd like to introduce some backstory, feel free. I did, however, infer that Charlotte grew up in Pensacola by alluding to the fact that she knew one of the locals who came into Chuck's Roost from High School. I think it's entirely plausible that she was born there, or moved there at a young age, but I definitely feel like she's at least spent most of her life there.

Charlotte speaks very well and with no discernible accent. This means most likely that she was educated through high school (less than 40% of women her age graduated from high school).

I'm not sure where you got the part about having no discernible accent. She's certainly well spoken, but I don't recall any reference to an accent, one way or the other. She definitely graduated H.S. (cause it said so in chapter one), but I think her accent, if any, is still open to the first person who takes it on. If you want her to really have no accent, this could be accounted for by having her parents move the family from somewhere up north or mid atlantic or midwest, when she was young. She'd have already learned to speak by that point and continuing to speak with her parents at home would have a continuing influence on whether or not she picked up Southern speech.

It also mean that her parents were not from that area, or took care to make sure she did not speak with a regional accent, which would also be unusual at a time when radio was a luxury, and tended to be local/regional.

See above.

We've been told she held her dad work on a tractor before, but she doesn't speak as if she were raised by local farmers.

Actually, this brings up a conflict. In Chapter One, I wrote, Her own father had died when she and Gladys were just kids. Then, in Chapter Two, when Charlotte takes a stab at fixing the radio, Kate had her say, "I'll see if I can fix this. I used to watch my father tinker with stuff like this when I was a girl. Perhaps I can find my way around." And then in Chapter Three, Jeri had her say, "I haven't ever come anywhere near an airplane before. I used to fix my dad's tractor when it broke, though, and I kept our well running."

There's the conflict. For one thing, it wasn't specified exactly how young she was when her father died, but I get the impression it was too young for her to have picked up any mechanical skills. On the other hand, it's a useful bit to explain why she's handy. I'm going to suggest that Jeri go back and change that slightly. I think it would work better if she said, she and her sister had spent a few summers on their Uncle's Farm in Georgia, or something like that.

So. Where was Charlotte raised? What did her parents do? How much education does Charlotte have?

Raised mostly in Pensacola.

Her parents could have done anything, but if her father had been stationed at NAS Pensacola that would go a long way toward explaining why they ended up in Pensacola. Maybe Dad had moved the family around a bunch because of transfers and when he died, the family just stayed

Charlotte is a H.S. Graduate.

Hope that helps and now I throw this open to one and all.


Random Michelle K said...

I'm not sure where you got the part about having no discernible accent. She's certainly well spoken, but I don't recall any reference to an accent, one way or the other.

She speaks like we do. She doesn't use any regional slang or contractions.

Someone without an accent doesn't draw much of a notice these days, but it did draw a lot of notice back then. My grandmother has repeatedly commented that teachers didn't believe her kids were from Baltimore, because the spoke without an accent. IIRC, this is something her father (an immigrant) emphasized for this children, that they speak well.

But normally people would speak the lingo and dialect of the area where they grew up, because that's what they heard. And she simply has no regional dialect.

Also, not to anger you, but I think having her slightly older when her father died works better, in that it would have allowed her more time to poke around with tractors and radios.

It would also allow her to be a bit more of a tomboy (i.e. help dad out) than she would be otherwise I think.

And then of course we can assume that after helping her dad, his loss allowed her to do such tasks around the house, especially when repairs and replacements were hard to come by during the great depression.

Random Michelle K said...

The other thing that's bugging me is I can't figure out what her family did during the great depression. If her father died when they were too young, it is likely they would have been subject to abject poverty, unless they received support from their grandparents.

However, if they were slightly older when he died, and had managed somehow to survive the great depression with his savings (gold? silver?) they might have managed to eke by.

Random Michelle K said...


Almost forgot.

Thank you for this thread. :)

Nathan said...

I'm fine with her having no accent and I've suggested how that might have occurred. You can use that or throw something else out there.

Also, making him a military guy is another solution to how they made it through the depression. I'm willing to let him die when she's a little older; if a bunch of you want that changed, I'll do it. But I prefer having him die when she's young...Mom has to get a job and support the family...the kids have to be a lot more self reliant. And I like the idea of summers on the farm for her mechanical background.

Oh, and almost forgot...you're welcome

Anonymous said...

Floridians today are an anomaly in the south - most have no noticeable accent. I don't know if that was the case in the 40s.

I am assuming she has no brothers, otherwise she would not have gotten to do hands on tool stuff. And, she probably doesn't have significantly younger sisters or she'd have been more comfortable taking over her sister's kids.

I would vote for having her father die when she was slightly older too... she can be an indulged younger daughter, allowed to play with tools in place of the son he never had - and correspondingly closer and more crushed by his death when she lost him.

I would say she's also more informal, because that makes her more accessible to the reader - while Mrs Pitts is referred to and thinks of herself as such, Charlotte thinks of herself as Charlotte, and her friends refer to her that way too. I'd imagine her colleagues, though, would call her Miss Misner.

I think she wants to be transferred to the UK and meet an English lord, too. WWII Britain is a fairly romantic - in the epic scope of the word - locale. I'm just saying. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm actually motivated, now, to write a related story - maybe about Audrey or someone else entirely - about another phenomenon that caught my attention.

At the end of WWII, all the day cares closed down and all the women were expected to return home. There was a distinct sentiment that not being at home with the kids was bad for them, in fact the term 'juvenile delinquent' was termed during this time frame. (Well, that sentiment still exists - just ask my MIL about a woman's place.)

Many women were probably just fine with that arrangement, but some - protofeminists, women like Charlotte with children to support, single women, whatever, were probably very unhappy... the greater opportunity probably was probably very satisfying and they probably no longer fit into the little tiny box of womens roles in the 50s.

It'd be interesting to try to write about that - without being too shrill.

Anonymous said...

I'm bored at work this afternoon and my mind is thinking of writing.

How about - I still like it that Charlotte's dad died a little later, and that he was military - she became handy with tools figuring out how to fix things around the house for her mom while her dad was out at sea (he was navy, right, so out six months at a time.)

Nathan said...

OK everybody, I'm going to do a little rewrite on chapter one. Charlotte's father is going to be a mechanic at NAS Pensacola, which gives him mechanical ability to impart to his daughter and allows the family to make it through the depression. Dad won't die until 1937, when Charlotte is just shy of 18 years old. (I'm not going to get to this immediately, but Vince can include that in the bible and Michelle can assume it when she's writing her chapter.)

Charlotte does not have any other siblings.

Charlotte is definitely "Charlotte" to most people, though there are certainly people who'd call her Miss Misner just out of politeness.

Re: the "Floridians are an anomaly today" thing. North Florida and especially the pan handle are definitely the deep south, even more so back then. Most folks would have noticeable accents, although I'm fine with us giving Charlotte neutral speech with any of the proposed explanations.

Lastly, I placed this in Pensacola because I thought of it as an interesting setting...sort of exotic because of its crappiness. Pensacola in the 40's would have been a dusty sort of a hick town with the base being the biggest reason it didn't dry up and blow away. Having said that, if someone chooses to get her moved to London...or recruited into the OSS and parachuted into Germany...or recruited by Germany to captain a U-boat...that's your choice. Have at it.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Nathan - Charlotte has one sibling. The one she inherited the children from. ;)

Nathan said...

No living siblings ya nitpicker!

Random Michelle K said...


Thank you!

I'm starting to figure Charlotte out now.

Thank goodness.

Anonymous said...

Honey, check your spelling.

Nathan said...

We've apparently been speaking about fancy onions up to now.


Random Michelle K said...

My part is done.

Chapter 4 is posted, and I also posted some of my story notes, either to flesh out characters or where I thought the chracters might be going in their attitudes.

One thing missing: I don't know Goodwin's rank.