This Boy’s Life

Chuck Bolger Character Analysis

One of Jack’s closest friends in high school. Chuck is a preacher’s son, but has a serious drinking problem. When drunk, he is “haunted and wild”; when sober, he is kind, gentle, brotherly, and the kind of person everyone wants to be friends with. Chuck and Jack frequently play pranks and get into mischief, and though they have lighthearted fun together often, Jack notices that when Chuck gets too drunk, he seems to want to hurt himself.

Chuck Bolger Quotes in This Boy’s Life

The This Boy’s Life quotes below are all either spoken by Chuck Bolger or refer to Chuck Bolger. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of This Boy’s Life published in 1989.
Chapter 26 Quotes

Everyone liked Chuck. Sober, he was friendly and calm and openhanded. When I admired a sweater of his he gave it to me, and later he gave me a Buddy Holly album we used to sing along with. Chuck liked to sing when he wasn't in church. It was hard to believe, seeing him in the light of day, that he had spent the previous night throwing himself against a tree. That was why the Bolgers had so much trouble coming to terms with his wildness. They saw nothing of it. He lingered over meals in the main house, talked with his father about the store, helped his mother with the dishes. His little sisters fawned on him like spaniels. Chuck seemed for all the world a boy at home with himself, and at these times he was. It wasn't an act. So when the other Chuck, the bad Chuck, did something, it always caught the Bolgers on their blind side and knocked them flat.

Related Characters: Jack / Tobias (speaker), Chuck Bolger
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chuck Bolger Character Timeline in This Boy’s Life

The timeline below shows where the character Chuck Bolger appears in This Boy’s Life. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 20
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...boys and is dedicated to becoming an outlaw just like them. His closest friend is Chuck Bolger, who drinks to excess and gets into trouble all the time despite being the... (full context)
Chapter 25
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Rosemary talks to Chuck Bolger’s parents, and they agree to take Jack in for a few months until the... (full context)
Abuse Theme Icon
On the day that Chuck comes to collect Jack from Chinook, Dwight takes Jack aside and says he wants to... (full context)
Chapter 26
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Chuck drinks to the point of intoxication almost every night. Some nights he is happy and... (full context)
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Chuck and Jack live together in a converted storage shed on the Bolger’s large property. Each... (full context)
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Despite Chuck’s excessive drinking and occasionally violent temperament, he is always very kind to Jack, and Jack... (full context)
Abuse Theme Icon
...cards, Jack and his friends decide it might be fun to drive out to Bellingham. Chuck does not have enough gas for the trip—but says he knows where to get some.... (full context)
Abuse Theme Icon
The next morning, Mr. Bolger wakes Chuck and Jack and urges them to get dressed and come to the main house. In... (full context)
Abuse Theme Icon
Chuck and Jack drive the cans back over to the Welches’ and then bring them up... (full context)
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
That afternoon, Mr. Bolger comes to the shed to talk to Chuck and Jack and ask if they made their apologies. Jack confesses that though he wanted... (full context)
Chapter 27
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
One night, the sheriff comes to the house to tell the Bolgers that Chuck is about to be charged with statutory rape by a girl from Concrete High, and... (full context)
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Chuck comes back to the shed from the main house and tells Jack the whole story.... (full context)
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
...by, the atmosphere in the Bolger household is tense and miserable. Mr. Bolger repeatedly tells Chuck that he must marry Tina, but Chuck cannot be convinced. Even when Huff and Psycho... (full context)
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
The sheriff begins pressuring Chuck more harshly to make a decision. Jack suggests Chuck run off and join the army,... (full context)
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
That night, the sheriff comes by one final time. He gives Chuck an ultimatum: “get with the program or else.” When Chuck comes back to the shed... (full context)
Chapter 28
Abuse Theme Icon
...so that Dwight can try and win Rosemary back. Jack doesn’t like hearing this—he and Chuck have their own plans to go down to Seattle the next day so that Jack... (full context)
Identity and Performance Theme Icon
Abuse Theme Icon
Later that afternoon, Jack gets an idea. That night, after midnight, Chuck and Jack sneak out and drive to Chinook. They get to Dwight’s house, and after... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Jack meets Chuck outside a movie theater, where Chuck has spent the afternoon at a double feature. Together,... (full context)
Chapter 31
Storytelling and Escapism Theme Icon
...bright at certain moments;” Jack recalls one such moment as the afternoon he spent with Chuck in Seattle. The two boys had overcome a lot of difficulty recently and were poised... (full context)