I need to take some ‘dvice from you. You seem t’ve learnt early on not t’ fight unless you gotta. My Uncle Jack told me that fighting and cussin’ shouldn’t be used ‘less I’m bein’ provoked pretty bad. I was getting provoked a lot for bein’ a freak sorta. My father, Atticus, was defending a Negro man for rape against a white woman and I hadta hear about ‘t a lot. I knew it was wrong for people t’ talk bad to me ‘cause Atticus was just doin’ what he was assigned t’ do by defending Mr. Tom. But, they still held ‘t ‘gainst us Finches.
I got in a fight with my cousin Francis, though. He provoked me, though so I was just defendin’ Atticus. I think it’s real honorable and all that you fought all those football players to stand up for Patrick. You seem like you’d be a real good friend for some’ne, Charlie.
I think you ‘n’ I’d be good friends, too. You really like to read just like me. When I started the first grade, my teacher Miss Caroline triedta tell me I wasn’t old enough to read! Can you believe that? Her job is’ta teach us, but we’re not allowedta read or write in the first grade! I still read, though…just not when I go to school. If I stopped readin’, that’d be like not breathing and I’d up and die just like that. Readin’s important. You gotta be able to read and write if you wanna get some’re. But, I’m sure you know that. You say you’re workin’ hard in school and all so that you can get a schola’ship for college. I think that’s right good of you, ‘specially since you wanna get an education even though your parents can’t pay ‘n all.
Now Charlie, I wanted to tell ya somethin’ else. I understand why ya don’t like goin’ out and all ‘cause people are mean out there and not many people care ‘bout other people’s feelin’s and stuff. But, I don’t think you should be ‘fraid of them or nothin’. I think if you’re proud of what ya do and you think you’re doin’ the right thing for yourself and for everyone else ‘round you, then you should keep doin’ it. I think you’re smart ‘nough to know what’s good from what’s not. And, I believe that you’re a good, nice person, Charlie.
There’s this man, Boo Radley, that lives down the street from me and he never comes out o’ his house! I met him under bad happenin’s, though. The father of the girl who accused Mr. Tom of rape—‘member how Atticus was defending that Negro man—well, the father of that girl Mr. Ewell, he was a damned liar about the rape and he triedta kill my brother Jem and me in the dark while we were walkin’ home from the Halloween pageant! But, Mr. Boo Radley came and saved us. (Sorry for cussin’ up there, Charlie. I’m tryin’ not ta, but I just get excited sometimes and it just slips out!) But, anyways, Boo saved us even though we’d never seen him come out his house. Atticus told me that most people are real nice when you get ta know them. I wish I knew why Boo never comes outta his house. I guess he just doesn’t wanna hafta put up with them lyin’ Ewells. I don’t blame him or nothin’ either. I don’t like havin’ ta deal with them around town either.
What I was gettin’ at Charlie, is that you gotta come outside sometime. ‘Specially if you’re standin’ up for somethin’ that you think is right. Don’t be ‘fraid what people are gonna say ‘cause everyone’s always got somethin’ to say about everyone else. Just hold your head high and stay true to yourself. I gotta go, though. I think I hear my Aunty Alexandra callin’ me. She’s always hollerin’ at me. I hope you do good at school, Charlie.
I’m writing to you because it has come to my attention that you are not necessarily in a right good spot in your life. I understand you’ve recently started attending high school and are possibly having some difficulty adjusting to this new lifestyle. I’d like to give you some advice that I have given my pseudo-foster son, Amory. His mother Beatrice and I were involved before she decided that she wanted a husband with a richer background than mine. We still remain friends and I meet with her boy, Amory on an occasional basis.
Now, let me get back to where I meant to go. You and young Amory are very similar in character. I met with him for the first time shortly before he began his time at a boys’ preparatory school. He was a smart young lad, like I understand you are, dear Charlie.
The first piece of large and useful advice I’d like to give you is something that I told young Amory at the end of our first meeting. Nobody is necessary to your life or to my life, except for one’s own self. You are the only person essential for and responsible for your success and happiness in life. Friends and family are wonderful support to have surrounding you, but they are non-essential. As I’m sure you’ve read in William Ernest Henley’s poem Invictus in school, you are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. Please keep this in mind when thinking of your future years in school after Patrick and Sam, and your sister graduate. They are special and important people to you; however they are unnecessary for your happiness. Believe me, dear boy; you are more than capable of finding happiness in your own experiences.
Another thing, Charlie, is that you seem to have a tendency to group your friends and family members unnecessarily. My dear Amory has this similar inclination. Especially in regard to your peers, I urge you to avoid doing this. Young people are prone to change their minds quickly as I’m sure you have already begun to notice. Throughout your youth, you and your friends will experience many changes. Take them in stride and please avoid grouping your friends based on these changes.
Before I go, because I am afraid I must be going soon, I want you to know that you are important. Even when your friends forget to telephone on your birthday or your sister tells you that she hates you when you really did do the right thing, remember that they all really do love you dearly and value you and your love for them. You are not worthless when you’re not fully participating in the social events hosted by your school. You are not worthless when you skip class to smoke cigarettes by yourself outside the lunch room. You are so valuable and important and you should never let anyone convince you otherwise. Please try not to feel as if you are unimportant, dear boy.
I hope you’re talking to people and continuing to participate at school, as well as keeping up with your studies because I know you are more than capable of great things.
With all of my regards,
Monsignor Thayer Darcy.
Why are you trying to grow up so fast? It seems like you just want to be an adult, and let me tell you there is nothing great about being an adult. You can’t go swimming and running and adventuring ever again! You’re just too busy working and having to take care of things, responsibilities. I think you really should take a step back from having to deal with your older sister’s problems. Gosh, older people really do have it tough.
And, you with all the time you spend reading and writing...really, Charlie, you should be out trying to create more infinite times with your friends. Isn’t it great to be infinitely young and free? Charlie, get out there. Pretend with your friends more often, I know they won’t care. You told me that in your letter. You said it was great that they didn’t think you were crazy for pretending. It’s because it really isn’t a crazy thing to do, to pretend, Charlie. But, if you grow up, you’ll never be able to pretend again! You’ll be stuck.
I hope you could come visit me in NEverland, Charlie. We could have so much fun swimming in the lagoon and you could probably tell me and the Lost Boys all kinds of stories, don’t you think, Charlie? I bet you could tell great stories; my friend Wendy used to know the greatest bedtime stories. But, you seem a rather childlike yourself, Charlie. Maybe you wouldn’t be so good at taking care of us after all. You could still come and explore with us, Charlie, and we could all stay young forever. It would be infinite and great, I just know it, Charlie.
Charlie, I really hope you’ll come to Neverland and stay here with me. Please don’t waste your time growing up. Wendy left me to grow up and I just couldn’t bear to go back for her. Alas, I waited and when I did finally return to bring her back to Neverland with me she couldn’t fly. That’s what happens when you grow up, Charlie. You forget to fly. Please, Charlie, always stay young. Never forget to fly and never forget who you really are. Don’t let the world tell you what you should do. If you want to stay young and adventurous and free, please, Charlie, stay that way.
My name is Jay Gatsby and I’m writing to you as a form of warning. I’m writing because I know how much you love your friend Sam. I know how you love her because that is how I loved Daisy Fay when I was young and in the service. I know you think she is the most beautiful and perfect girl you’ve ever met. And, I don’t want to put a stop to your feelings so harshly, but she’s not. Even though you love them, girls can hurt you in so many ways. I wish there was a better way to tell you this, old sport, but there really isn’t.
I think you kind of have a good idea about girls, though. I think you’re learning. You said something about how you feel bad when boys look at girls and think they’re better than how they are. I think that, too. But, I think it’s equally bad when girls look at boys and think they’re better than how they really are. That’s what happened with me and my darling Daisy. After the war when I got stuck in London at Oxford, I kept trying to write and explain to her what happened; but she ended up marrying a man named Tom Buchanan instead because he had money and I didn’t. Daisy thinks the world of Tom and as much as I love her, I just feel bad for her. He runs around on her and is just a dishonest man. Here I am, waiting on her for five years, in love with her the whole time; and she’s off married to Tom who lies and cheats and doesn’t care about her one single bit. I hardly think she loves him any, old sport. They just hurt everyone in their paths, Daisy and Tom do. Tom hurts Daisy and in turn, Daisy hurts me.
Anyways Charlie, old sport, be careful with your feelings. If you don’t think a girl loves you, or you don’t think you really love her then leave. And if a girl leaves you to be with another man even when you still love her, you need to forget about her. No matter how hard it may be, you need to forget about her and move on. I wish I had known that. I put a lot of things on the line to be with Daisy. I hoped that she would leave Tom to be with me because I really did believe that she still loved me after all those years apart. But, she didn’t. She was a selfish girl. In the end, it was very bad for me to dwell on the past. I wish that I had had the foresight to forget about my tryst with Daisy in the past; instead I ruined myself and the people around me. I hope you can learn from my mistake and move on from unhealthy relationships. Don’t take things to heart so quickly because people change, sometimes at an instant. I thought that I had Daisy convinced to leave her husband to run away with me, but then she didn’t. I waited on her for five years, old sport. Don’t waste your life dwelling on things that are long gone, Charlie. I know how much you loved your Aunt Helen, but she has passed; and I know that Michael was your only friend throughout middle school, but let him rest in peace also. Please always look forward for that is where the hope and future lie and you have so much potential, old sport.
Good luck and love always,
As someone who tends to be rather naïve, I recognize this trait in you very much. I think this has lent itself to you originally being sort of a novelty among your group of friends, who all happen to be older than you. You have a very unique nature and I think because you are the youngest member of your family, you have been rather sheltered. I tend to shelter myself, especially after the accident in which my leg was shattered. I sort of hid myself away at home until I was healed; and once I was able to go back to school I lived under the delusion that World War II didn’t really exist because I was disabled and not able to enlist in the service. I imagine this wasn’t exactly a healthy response to my injury, but it was the easiest. Even when my friend Gene tried to tell me while I was healing that he was fully responsible for my injury, I disregarded everything that he said.
Charlie, I’m glad that you finally pulled from the back of your mind that your Aunt Helen molested you. It does not do well to push displeasing memories to the back of one’s mind. It is much better when you are able to confront your past and make amends with what will happen in the future. Charlie, it is frightening to live under delusions that events in our pasts didn’t really happen the way they really did. I’m sure you’ve learned that that it is important
Now Charlie, be proud of yourself. If you want to wear or do something that others may not like or think looks good, but you think you it’s good and you have a valid reason, then do it. My very good friend and roommate, Gene, tried to talk me out of wearing a pink emblem I had created for myself from a tablecloth my mother sent me. I wore the shirt with pride and when the Master of our history class asked me about it, I explained to him the meaning of my emblem and that was that.
Charlie, follow your own desires. Believe what your heart tells you to believe and never give up on your dreams.
I don’t really know what to say to you. It’s not like I can really do anything for you, anyways. I mean, really, man, you have to find someone who actually listens and understands and can tell you something. That kid Patrick that you’re friends with seemed like he’d be able to help you, but I don’t know anymore all the times he took you out to drink wine and then he’d kiss you. Seriously, that’s some kind of scary stuff. I don’t think I could do that. I mean, I guess you’re trying to be his friend, but I don’t know, kid.
Just stay away from the phonies, Charlie. Seriously, kid, they will be the death of me. I just can’t even stand dealing with all their goddamn phony nonsense. Especially that kid Craig you told me about that Sam was dating, what a phony. You said he thinks he takes such great photographs without even realizing they’re beautiful because of what’s in them. Seriously, stay away from phonies, Charlie.
Speaking of Sam, Charlie, goddamn girls. They just are so goddamn cute with everything they do. You really got to watch out for that, Charlie. They just make you fall half in love with them. I don’t know what I would ever do if I fell all the way in love with a girl. Oh boy, that’d be just grand, right, Charlie? God. I think you’re figuring it out, though. You just really got to stay away from the cutest girls. Once they know that you’re in love with them, then you’re just ruined. They take over.
Charlie, I really think you should think about going to visit your aunt and all at the cemetery so often. You can’t tell me that you enjoy going to the cemetery and being around all those dead people. My brother Allie died and I went with my family to put flowers on the grave a couple times, but I had to stop. Seriously, Charlie “who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody” (155). You really have to cut that out.
Hey, keep going to your doctors. I mean, if you think it’s helping you. I don’t know what I think about it all. It kind of seems like some goddamn nonsense. They keep asking me how I’m going to do at school. I bet you got sick of hearing that when you went to all your doctors. How am I supposed to know how I’m going to do when I go back? Ok, Charlie. Good luck, I guess. I mean, what else do you want me to say?
I hear you’re a wallflower. You’re a looker and a listener and you understand. But, you think too much, man. You gotta get out in the world and participate. I know that old teacher of yours told you get out there and live and he’s so right, man. I think you gotta get out and just live, Charlie. Go do things. Stop reading and writing your papers and live your life and make those experiences your own. Quit pretending you are the characters in your books and get out and go and make your own adventures, kid. Do things so crazy that you’ll be able to use that typewriter Sam gave you and you’ll write everything down. Live so that other people will want to write about you.
Charlie, you have to travel. Patrick is going out to Washington for school next year, right? You gotta get out there and see it, man. I didn’t get a chance to get out there myself, but the West is the best by far. Pennsylvania is holding you down, Charlie. Seriously, get out to California and the Midwest and all across America. You need to go. Go south, go, Charlie. Go, explore! Once you get on the road, everything will come to you. The road will take you where it wants to take you. And once you’re out there, there’s no turning back, Charlie.
Really Charlie, I can’t give you any more advice than to just go, go, go. You gotta, man. Don’t let yourself get tied down and stuck in one place because you know that’s unhealthy, kid. Charlie, keep going. Don’t get too tied down over Michael dying and your Aunt Helen dying and breaking up with that Mary Elizabeth girl. She was so awful for you anyways, man. I think you knew that. Actually, I know that you knew that because you kissed Sam in front of all your friends. Oh man, Charlie, you gotta think a little before doing somethin’ so bold like that! But, I guess you finally decided to do what was right for you and that’s awesome, Charlie. Do your thing. Do your own goddamn thing, Charlie kid. Keep looking forward, and do your own thing, and always stay moving ‘cause when you’re moving you don’t have time to get sad and idle. Don’t let the bastards get you down, Charlie.
Man, you’re a mess, kid. This being sad shit and just lingering on and on wasting time thinking about the deaths of your friend and your aunt, kid, you gotta stop living in the past. I don’t even think I know what the past is anymore. I just go and live in the present, and that’s what you need to do, Charlie. You seem like you’re trying to move on and get into yourself. So, keep going, kid, just keep going.
I can’t believe you already are saying that you never want to do LSD again, though. Damn, Charlie, I guess you at least got that feeling, that trip, and you saw into yourself and into your soul. Man, Charlie, you really gotta find some other psychedelics. Those things really help you put your life in perspective. You really start to think about your soul and your psyche and your life may seem a little jumbled at first. But, you get the greatest perspective of your life when you take them, Charlie.
Don’t worry about what those kids at school think about your suit. Boy, I bet that shit looks great on you. Your friends were right when they said that all the great writers wore suits. Man, suits make you feel like a million bucks even when you’re at rock bottom. I mean, I don’t know what rock bottom is because everything I do fulfills me and man, Charlie these psychedelics make life so great. You just gotta try some more, man.
Charlie, keep it easy, kid. I know you’ve got it in you to be one of the greats. You really do.
I believe you are an extremely passionate and thoughtful young man. However, I think it is important that you don’t find yourself too dependent on any single person or song or object. I’ve noticed that you have grown attached to your friends Patrick and Sam. You also describe your feelings as infinite; however, Charlie I don’t think infinity should be your standby emotion and feeling towards experiences because experiences are finite. Life is but a finite time, Charlie. I do wish that you would recognize that. Your Aunt Helen lived a life that ended because every moment cannot be one that is endless in its nature and tone.
Charlie, I desire that you experience complete isolation if you feel your path will lead you there. I myself chose to live alone in the woods for two years. While I still maintained a connection to the civilization around me, I had plenty of time to contemplate many issues of which I had been thinking. The woods in which I lived were close enough to hear the Fitchburg Railroad throughout the summers and winters I spent there. I felt as if I was still in contact with the modern world around me, but in my woods I was able to experience complete peace in the sounds of nature around me.
The natural world is a truly fascinating place. I almost could say that this modern world in which you live is depriving you of the joy experienced being deep in the woods with nary a hunter. Charlie, please follow your path to happiness and fulfillment. Life is but a path to our ultimate enlightenment and its time is fleeting, at best. Follow your heart and let the way of your life take you where you truly belong, love, and allow yourself to be loved.
The death of my father came as a shock to both me and our entire kingdom of Denmark. What was to follow was truly something much stranger than one should believe. I was visited by the ghost of my father and that was most traumatic for me. I imagine you experience less physical specters in your life, Charlie. You have memories of your friend Michael who alas killed himself and memories of your Aunt Helen to whom you were rather close. She is the only person to call you special, not including your schoolteacher. Charlie, death is but an absurd concept. Imagine it, all your life you are living and having these experiences only to have them taken away from you in a second and your physical remains simply decompose under the ground. Prior to the funeral of my beloved Ophelia, I was in the graveyard and was handed the skull of Yorick. Yorick was the former court jester during my youth and my father’s reign. I could not believe that the skull I held was once his face full of flesh and marrow. The tides of nature stripped his bone of the life they had once possessed.
Charlie, I was forced by this ghost of my father to seek vengeance for his murder. The ghost informed of the manner of my father’s death by poisoning by his own brother. Furthermore, my uncle Claudius sought to marry my mother Gertrude. I could not believe his gumption, Charlie, murdering his brother and then marrying the deceased’s wife as a means to prevent me from taking my rightful place on the throne of Denmark. Charlie, I had no other choice but to fight for the name of my father and my family’s honor. But, I was hesitant and I believe that was tragic for me. Charlie, you must act when you feel the calling to act. I understand you might be wary because of the consequences you might face, but when one hears his calling he must answer it and react on the spot. Don’t let your fear paralyze you.
I must say, though, you should think carefully about all possible outcomes of your actions. I killed my Ophelia’s father Polonius because I feared he might have been Claudius dropping the eaves of a private moment with my mother. I simply wished to express to my mother the depth of my conversations I had been having with the ghost of my father. My rash decision ultimately cost not only Polonius’ life, but Ophelia’s as well because in her grief she drowned herself. So, while I would beseech you to act without hesitation don’t act without the proper consideration.
Alas, I must go, Charlie. I have a duel to attend to.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Stop worrying about being alone. It’s unimportant. Nothing is important, really, Charlie. Nothing is, unless you want it to be. So think about yourself, Charlie, or don’t. Let life move on how it will. Everything goes the way it’s going to and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Death happens. Don’t linger over Michael or your aunt because that’s not going to change anything. It’s better to just let go of the past and have another cigarette, Charlie. Just have another cigarette. Thinking about things too much will just waste your time. Don’t let life get in the way of you living your life the way you want to.
Charlie, think for yourself. Don’t let other people tell you what’s important because none of it is ever. Don’t let other people become your priority, Charlie. Don’t let anything become a priority over your basic essentials. Eat, sleep, smoke cigarettes, Charlie and you will have an alright life. I mean, you’re going to die, so the rest of it doesn’t matter. Ok, I have to go now, Charlie. They’re taking me to be hanged soon. I shot an Arab man at the beach and the jury found me guilty, even though my whole trial was focused on my apathy towards my mother’s death. It was rather absurd, if I say so myself. But, I guess I’ve realized that I’m going to die regardless, so it’s acceptable.
Good day, Charlie.
I fear you may be settling for less than what you know that you can achieve. I truly do recognize the effort you’re putting in for Bill’s class and all of the books he assigns for you to read. But, Charlie, I don’t want you to be content with mediocre work. The B that you got on your essay about Peter Pan is a fantastic improvement from your previous work. From reading your letters, it is obvious that your writing style is gaining clarity and a certain rhythm and that is also great. Charlie, always work to improve yourself. That is such a vital part of growth and adolescence.
On the topic of adolescence and Peter Pan, I hope you won’t be dissuaded from growing up, Charlie. Youth is a great time, but there is certainly a time when one must grow up and become a mature adult in society. At fifteen years old, you do appear to be maturing. But, this feeling of “being infinite” is just childlike! Charlie, nothing is infinite and you surely cannot allow yourself to fall under this delusion that you will be able to stay young forever. I feel that you have had quite a few experiences that have lent themselves well to growing up, though. The death of your Aunt who you idolized certainly was a blow to your mind, though. Don’t allow such terrible things to destroy your sense of self.
Charlie, you really can be great. You must maintain your individuality and composure in stressful times in order to fully escape this time in your life that is young adulthood. You have quite the personality and wit to be successful in the real world. Guard your heart from the dangers of others. Be honest with yourself and those around you. But, truly value yourself and stay true to your own thoughts and your own imagination. You will be okay.
I will post my Polaroids soon; in the mean time enjoy my words!