25 March 2019
The Charmer by Budge Wilson
There is always that one person in the family who has a cause and an effect on the family’s dysfunction. The Charmer by Budge Wilson demonstrates the themes of manipulation. It illustrates how Zachery can manipulate any type of situation to whatever he desires. Interestingly, Zachary uses his charm and distinct features to disguise the pain he was experiencing internally. He keeps a lot of secrets from his relatives and exhibits very untrustworthy behavior, but despite all this, he still has admirers and is still seen as the household hero to his sisters and mother. His charm and actions are the root of his family’s dysfunction. Thus, by examining how Zachary manipulates his family in The Charmer it is evident that he is the cause of his family’s destructive issues.
Zachary’s manipulation of his mother is a primary cause of the family dysfunction. The Charmer represents manipulation in various ways. It shows how much of an impact Zachary has on his family, especially with the females. Zachary is overwhelmed with love and admiration from them. However, he takes advantage of their kind gestures and never really appreciates what they do for him. This is evident to be a person vs. person conflict with the female characters because Zachary is showing struggle, when it comes to treating them with the same kind of respect and generosity, they lay onto to him. With his mother, who has a soft spot for him, he manipulates the fact that she always defends him even when his actions become uncontrollably self-centered. It is hard for her to even stay mad at him if he “delivers apologies that would have brought tears to a preacher’s eyes” (Wilson 4). He takes any chance he got, to get someone to do what he wants. For example, the time when his mother was not home and he took a large wedge out of a cake that his mother made for a church. That, of course, got her mad, but he still manipulates the situation with his charm and poetic words to get the pressure off of him by saying “My mother, my queen!” (3) or saying “How could someone with any taste buds at all ignore the creation of so great a cook? ”(3). He praises her while giving her one of his special bear hugs to butter her up. He also gets her laughing and even gets her to make batter for a whole new cake. Zachary’s manipulations made her so passive however, it does not end with just his mother, it continues on to his sister Winnifred as well.
While Zachary’s manipulation of his mother is problematic, his manipulation of his sister Winnifred also leads to the family’s dysfunction. Zachary is by far admired the most by his little sister Winnifred, who is the one whom he has the most control over. He basically has her on a leash, controlling her with his keen nicknames and his sweet smile. She knows herself that he uses her nickname Posie as a source to control her, like when she comments, “he always called me Posie when he wanted me to do something for him” (2). Yet, She is still willing to do anything for him, and it did not matter to her what it was. If he asks, “how be you wash my bike for me, Posie love?”(2). She would be halfway to the kitchen with a bucket and rags before he even stopped speaking. Also if he commands “ Go get my baseball, kid,” she fetches it, without thinking twice about it. She acts like his servant, yet realizes a more appropriate term would be “Zachary’s willing slave. Slavery, in fact, was in vogue in our house.”(3) Winnifred is not literally a slave, however, the author uses this metaphor to really demonstrate how much power she thinks he has over her. The author also uses vivid imagery, to describe Zachary from Winnifred’s point of view. Even as when she exclaims, “His face was rugged and laughing; his body was muscular and golden, in January. He moved with the grace of a tiger he dazzled. He shone”(5), she shows her immense obsession of him. Winnifred's description of Zachary seems to make him appear as some sort of saint, thus showing how much she admires him as a person. But soon the story shifts and suspicions arise that Zachary’s internal issues cause more dysfunction in the family.
In conclusion, While Zachary's actions would obviously be indicated as the root of his family's dysfunction, it is also his parents and sisters who are equally to blame for this as well. As for the parents, it is their role and responsibility to love, forgive and care for their children. These specific roles turn Zachary into a major problem for them. The love, forgiveness, passiveness, and lack of discipline from all family members lead Zach to be a selfish and irresponsible person. On the contrary, if his parents shared their love with his sisters as well. He would have learned how to love and share responsibilities and to not use his misleading charm and stylistic wording to get out of it.
Wilson Budge, The Charmer