Dead Poets Society

Charlie Dalton Character Analysis

Charlie is a student at Welton, and comes from a rich, successful family. He’s more openly disobedient than his Welton peers, although for most of the book, he’s shown to be just as frightened of his parents as his classmates are of theirs. Under the guidance of John Keating, Charlie experiments with drinking, dancing, wooing women, and generally rebelling against the stiff, overly repressive atmosphere at Welton Academy. Charlie is one of Keating’s most loyal followers, to the point where he’s arguably more interested in rebellion and nonconformity than Keating himself is. As the novel ends, Charlie is expelled from Welton for punching Cameron and refusing to compromise in his loyalty to Keating.
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Charlie Dalton Character Timeline in Dead Poets Society

The timeline below shows where the character Charlie Dalton appears in Dead Poets Society. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...than three quarters of graduating students went on to the Ivy League. Two students, 16-year-olds Charlie Dalton and Knox Overstreet, smile at this information—they both exemplify the classic, “preppy” Ivy League... (full context)
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It is time for the students’ parents to say goodbye to them. Charlie Dalton and Knox Overstreet’s parents hug their children affectionately, while Neil Perry’s father just stands... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Knox, Charlie, and Meeks greet Neil and Todd and ask Neil about taking chemistry at summer school.... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...worries that Mr. Keating is going to test them on what he talked about, but Charlie laughs at him and says, “don’t you get anything?” (full context)
Chapter 6
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...meeting place. Cameron is reluctant to join, but eventually he, along with Pitts, Knox, Meeks, Charlie, agree to go there. (full context)
Chapter 7
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...begin, Knox tells the boys that he wants success in wooing Chris. To help Knox, Charlie reads a bawdy poem by John Dryden, laughing with glee. Steven Meeks reads a poem... (full context)
Chapter 8
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At the Dead Poets Society meeting that afternoon, Charlie, Knox, Meeks, Cameron, Todd, and Pitts go to the cave and read from Henry David... (full context)
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Charlie proposes that from now on, the cave should be a site for “experimentation”—everything that their... (full context)
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That afternoon, Neil, Todd, and the other Dead Poets show up at the cave. Charlie has brought his saxophone, and plays a composition he calls, “Poetrusic.” He plays very well—his... (full context)
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...the phone triumphantly and tells his friends that he’s going to Chris and Chet’s party. Charlie is skeptical that Chris is interested in Knox at all, but Knox insists that he’s... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...night, the Dead Poets meet in the cave (though Knox is going to Chris’s party). Charlie has brought two girls, Tina and Gloria, and carries a case of beer. Nobody has... (full context)
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Back in the cave, Neil, Cameron, and Charlie are outside, gathering logs for a fire. Charlie / Nuwunda explains that he’s just trying... (full context)
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...they find the drink disgusting. They talk about how Welton is an all-boys school, and Charlie announces that he’s already penned an article, in the name of the Dead Poets, about... (full context)
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Charlie recites poetry for Gloria—famous poets’ work, which he passes off as his own. Gloria is... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Back at the cave, the Dead Poets have continued drinking and reciting poetry. Charlie tells the Dead Poets to show Tina the “dead poets garden” so that he can... (full context)
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Suddenly, there’s the sound of a phone. Everyone turns to see Charlie, carrying a ringing phone. With exaggerated seriousness, he answers the phone, then says, “Mr. Nolan,... (full context)
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Nolan marches Charlie to his office, where he asks Charlie who else was involved in writing the editorial—but... (full context)
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Charlie returns to his dorm, where his friends are waiting for him. He explains everything Nolan... (full context)
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...how his classes have been going. Nolan insists that he’s not blaming Mr. Keating for Charlie’s actions, but also suggests that he’s heard rumors of unorthodox activity in Mr. Keating’s class.... (full context)
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Later that night, Keating visits the boys in their dorm. He tells Charlie that his stunt was ridiculous and reminds him, “There is a place for daring and... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...the dining hall and explains that his father is forcing him to quit the play. Charlie suggests that Neil talk to Mr. Keating about the matter. Charlie, followed reluctantly by Neil... (full context)
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...and a good education at Welton means far more to Neil than it does to Charlie, whose family is already wealthy. But he still wants to act. Mr. Keating urges Neil... (full context)
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...his own. The Poets suggest that Knox deliver his poem to Chris—they’ve already seen, via Charlie and Gloria, how words can inspire romance. (full context)
Chapter 12
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...immediately gets the audience’s attention as Puck—he’s an excellent actor. As the play goes on, Charlie notices Virginia Danburry, playing Hermia—“She’s beautiful,” he sighs. Meanwhile, Chris finds “herself becoming infatuated with... (full context)
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After the play, the Dead Poets go to the dressing room to congratulate Neil. Charlie, however, finds Virginia, still standing on the stage. He tells her, “Bright light shines in... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Keating and his students return to Welton very late. Early the next morning, Charlie wakes Todd up in his bed. Neil is dead, Charlie explains, stone-faced: he shot himself.... (full context)
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...that Cameron is talking to Headmaster Nolan right now—explaining everything about the Dead Poets Society. Charlie nods, realizing what’s going on—Welton needs a scapegoat for the accident. “Schools go under because... (full context)
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Suddenly, Cameron enters the dorm. Charlie accuses Cameron of “finking,” but Cameron denies it—he claims he just told the truth. Charlie... (full context)
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Charlie runs at Cameron and punches him in the face. Cameron staggers back, but begins to... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...back from his meeting with Nolan, crying. Outside Nolan’s office, he explains to Todd that Charlie has been expelled. Todd asks what Meeks told Nolan, and Meeks replies, “Nothing they didn’t... (full context)