— Audrey Hepburn (via fadingspells)
I imagine I’ll stop crying sometime next Tuesday.
I wasn’t expecting to feel so overwhelmed! I purchased the book because I had fond memories of reading it in middle school, however, I don’t think I read the novel version back then at all. Instead, I think I was only exposed to the short story version of the tale, which is supposed to be significantly more G-rated.
As it turns out, the novel version is often the subject of controversy because of the way it depicts Charlie’s sexual awakening / conduct. I believe the short story version is devoid of such subject matter, so it avoids ban lists and library removal.
For those who have never read it, you should really give Flowers for Algernon a try! The novel explores the tribulations of Charlie, a mentally retarded man who undergoes a surgical procedure to enhance his intellect. Keyes does a wonderful job of showing how intelligence is sometimes used as a status symbol, and that no matter where you fall in the spectrum, anyone, genius or not, is capable of both kindness and cruelty. Its themes regarding autonomy, self-awareness, and the search for identity are rich and compelling for readers of all ages!
Fun Fact: Perhaps because we watched Charly (the 1968 film based on this book) in class after we read the story, I forever associate the character of Alice Kinnian with Audrey Hepburn. The actress who portrayed her is NOT Audrey in the film, but she has that 1960’s ultra-dignified, classy white lady vibe about her. 80% of all women in movies made from 1962-1968 looked and sounded that way.
Here’s a facetious breakdown of their relationship in the book:
“Charlie! We can’t make teh sex because I’m your teacher and you’re retarded!”
“Charlie! We can’t make teh sex because you’re smart now, but not emotionally mature enough to handle it!”
“Charlie! We can’t make teh sex because now you’re freakin’ smarter than me and it makes ME feel stupid!”
“Charlie! We can’t make teh sex because of your fear of intimacy and painfully Freudian sexual issues!”
“Charlie! We can’t-wait. You say that you’re on the downward spiral, emotionally compromised, and only have a few weeks left before you relapse back into your original state of mental retardation?”
“LET’S F*CK EACH OTHER’S BRAAAAAAAINS OUT!”