Richard, He Who Always Smiles IRJE #4

The Ghost Woods by C.J. Cooke is about a mansion called Lichen Hall where pregnant girls who are not ready to have kids are taken in for care. This story develops in two timelines, one in the present (1965) and another in 1959. Pearl, the character of the present timeline gets up and sees Richard at the dining table. She has gone out on a walk at 3 A.M. the night before to contemplate her life.

He is smiling, but Richard always smiles, a strange little grin that never reaches his eyes. He never laughs, or says kind things, and so the smile sometimes makes me think he’s imagining dark things and taking pleasure in them. (p. 43)

In the previous chapters, Pearl has been portrayed by Cooke as someone who is stuck in a dark place, not knowing how to move forward because she is pregnant. In turn, she sees the worst in people. She sees Richard who is always smiling to be thinking of awful things instead of being happy. This paragraph helps show who Pearl is to the readers who is trying to understand each characters earlier on in the story.

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