Charles is Adam’s half-brother, and although he is a year younger, his physique and attitude often make him appear to be the stronger of the two boys. He has an athletic build and a bold personality like his father, two qualities which contrast significantly with Adam’s gentle nature. These differences often put him in a greater position of power than his brother, and he exploits this status to both protect and harm Adam. As children, Charles defends his brother from other boys who tease him and even stands up to their father on his behalf, acts which suggest that he does have a genuine sense of affection for Adam. At the same time, however, the level of control that he is used to having in situations like these causes him to become angry and violent when things do not go his way. Charles displays this kind of behavior when Adam beats him at peewee, for example, and he expresses no remorse in its aftermath. Cyrus’s rejection of his thoughtful birthday gift in favor of Adam’s last-minute one brings out Charles’s worst qualities, leading him to almost murder his brother and rendering him an embodiment of Cain. Like his biblical counterpart, he cannot fathom why his father does not reciprocate the love that he gives him.

Charles continues to live up to his identity as a Cain-like figure as an adult, although he also misses his brother and yearns for him to return home. Adam may be the brother who ends up wandering the country after being discharged from the military, but Charles suffers from the deep loneliness that his biblical counterpart experiences after God banishes him to the Land of Nod. He has no one to share his life with, leaving him feeling restless and unfulfilled. As he tries to find a sense of purpose by working hard on the Trask family farm, he has an accident which leaves him with an ever-darkening scar across his forehead. Both of these details reinforce Charles’s connection to Cain, and the scar serves as a physical reminder of his dark past.

It is perhaps because of Charles’s history of harmful behavior that he is able to identify evil in others more easily than Adam can. Charles is the first to suggest that Cyrus’s fortune was not earned through honest means, and although he loved his father deeply, he is willing to accept that he was a liar and a thief. He has a similar reaction to Cathy when she first arrives on their doorstep, suspecting her of being manipulative and untruthful. This suspicion causes Charles to openly dislike Cathy and drives a new wedge between himself and Adam as a result. With the sorrow that characterizes the remainder of his life, Charles cements his identity as a flawed figure of darkness.