Charlie is Morrie’s father, but the two men are very different from one another. Charlie emigrated from Russia to escape the Russian Army and did not immediately find success in America. The family lived in poverty, with Charlie constantly seeking work to cover their essential costs. Charlie’s motivation to provide for his family often led to him feeling distant or exacting to Morrie. Rather than spending time and personal investment on Morrie, Charlie brought in paychecks—albeit small ones—for the family.

Although we only get a few glimpses at Morrie’s relationship with his father, they provide us enough context to know Charlie was not affectionate and did not always understand how to deal with his emotions. When Morrie’s mother died, Charlie forbade Morrie from speaking about her. Charlie wanted Morrie’s younger brother, David, to believe their new stepmother Eva was their biological mother, so Morrie carried the burden of his mother’s memory on his own. However, Morrie loved Eva, as she was affectionate and encouraging. It was Eva who prioritized Morrie’s education as his way to get ahead in the world. Charlie, on the other hand, sought more immediate solutions to their family’s money troubles, and he prioritized securing Morrie a job.

When Charlie takes Morrie to the factory where he works to try and get Morrie a job, Morrie is relieved that there is not a place for him. Even after a short time inside the factory, Morrie sees the place as oppressive, and he vows never to get a job that would exploit someone else. As someone being exploited in the factory, Charlie’s work in degrading conditions shows his own willingness to sacrifice for his family.

Morrie acknowledges that his father did love their family, but Morrie resolved to love his own family differently. Mitch notes that Morrie’s sons adore their father and that they share at least some of his outlook on life. At the end of the book, Morrie admits to Mitch that his relationship with Mitch feels paternal. Morrie says if he had another son, he would have wanted him to be Mitch. In light of this revelation, we can see echoes of Morrie’s parenting approach in all his time spent with Mitch. Charlie may have invested in his son by trying to give him a leg up financially, but Morrie invests in his sons by giving them his affection and time.