When Charles Deetz, real estate mogul, moves his family to Winter River, he's expecting the peace and quiet that have escaped him in New York City:
CHARLES: Delia, let's get one thing straight. We're here to enjoy the country setting, not to trash the place!
DELIA: You're right.
OTHO: Charles, you're lucky the yuppies are buying condos so you can afford what I'm going to have to do to this place.
CHARLES: Otho, I'm here to relax and clip coupons, and, damn it, I mean to do it.
Charles is pretty tolerant of his wife's art obsession and redecorating mania. He's got a disinterested, sometimes condescending attitude about it, but he deals with it as long as Delia gives him one private space to call his own.
But surprise surprise: Charles's tranquility doesn't last long. Within days, he's scoping out the parking lots in Winter River and on the phone with his old business partners trying to make some money off real estate in this small town.
New York habits die hard.
When the ghosts finally attack the Deetzes, Charles isn't terrified for his family like any normal father and protector would be. He just sees dollar signs:
CHARLES: People will pay big money for this, right, Grace?
BERYL: The Enquirer is offering $50,000 for proof of life after death.
DELIA: Fifty thousand?
OTHO: This is it, Charles. You can get Maxie Dean up here now.
CHARLES: You think so?
OTHO: Sarah loves the supernatural. She'll have him sprint up here in his helicopter if you can produce ghosts for her.
So much for rest and relaxation in New England.
Charles obviously cares about his wife and daughter. He also realizes that he needs a bit of a break from the fast-paced world of big city real estate. But he just can't bring himself to let go. It's not until the very end of the movie that we see him sitting back in his chair and unwinding with a helpful book about getting along with the dead.
Until Delia's Betelgeuse sculpture scares him right out of that chair.