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Nobody wakes up in the morning hoping to have their world crumble down in front of them. Slowly, agonizingly. But for the characters in Earley’s “Charlotte” that’s exactly what is happening. The couple is in a loveless relationship living in a town that lost its soul. The story is about hope, and the loss of it. The basketball team always loses. The college workers at PJ’s always quit. The narrator can’t get Starla to love him. The Poetry Lord doesn’t get Darling Donnis, in the end.

The world that the narrator has created for himself was supposed to be something wonderful. He has moved on and grown up into a higher class of society than his squirrel-brain-eating father could ever have reached. “Our lives are small and empty, and we thought they wouldn’t be, once we moved to the city (35).” He drives a German car. There’s a spectacular wrestling crowd in town. He has a wonderful girlfriend. Until he doesn’t. The wrestlers leave and the town loses its luster. His relationship is sexual, but not emotional. She doesn’t love him. When he begs for it, she’ll snarl it out to him. That’s not how love should feel, he thinks.

The narrator tells the story of losing hope through the final battles of the pro wrestling league. The story contains two stories. The story of losing something you care about, and within that the motto that you can’t always get what you want, and the story of loving someone who is liveable, but not really loveable. The narrator says, “In the old days our heroes were as superficial as we were — but we knew that — and their struggles were exaggerated versions of our own (35).”

“What is the one thing you can say to save the world you live in? How do you find the words (54)?” The narrator makes us wonder. “There,” She said, as if it were late in the night, as if it were over. “There (55).”

Today I care. Today I feel.

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