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Coping with Emotional Distance in Flowers for Algernon and Childhood Trauma

Maia Tchoumak Being unable to contact someone is an everyday trouble; yet not being able to contact anybody because you speak in a foreign tongue can be even more exasperating. Much the same, not being understood because of different mindsets, can give a feeling of defeat. Thinking in an own way, makes emotions also obscure to those surrounding. In Flowers for Algernon and Childhood Trauma, the protagonists both go through stages of nativity, frustration and sadness while coping with emotional distance. Before realizing their detachment, the protagonists are nave to the emotional space from others that they share. Charlie Gordon, the main character in Flowers for Algernon, can not comprehend why his mother yells and scolds him. Charlie, frightened by the hysteria and the screaming, shrinks into the chair whimpering softly. What has he done wrong? (Keyes 118). No one in Charlies family understands how to communicate with him and understand his actions. Due to this, Charlie fails to comprehend what his mistakes are. In the same manner, the narrator in Childhood Trauma was at first oblivious to his situation. I didnt notice it had happened so young Too busy at play to see Too fascinated with the things around me as I floated along Just letting the currents take me where they will Not realizing I was in a capsule (15 19) He recalls having a simple mind, where he doesnt notice the big picture, just the things put in front of him. This complicates thing for him later, but for then, things were much

easier. He doesnt notice the distance from everything else because he doesnt realize there could be one. Both characters have a stage in their lives where they arent quite sure what is going on, however they play along anyway. When realizing the inability to be emotionally understood, the protagonists become perturbed. Charlie begins to snap at people who try to sympathies with him, claiming they would not know what he feels. What do you mean take it easy? You dont know what its like. (Keyes 110). Charlie is experiencing feelings so foreign, that he doubts anyone else has ever experienced them. He resents any pity that people give him because he finds it annoying and he would prefer some empathy. He thinks that he cant get any because his situation is so unique, however he does not know that people deal with similar feelings constantly. Similarly, Childhood Traumas protagonist is frustrated as he can not get out of his glass prison, and he has no one to contact for aid either. The tide ebbs and flows, coming so close Just out of reach But never close enough before it falls away again Over and over in maddening waves of hope This time will I be saved? (24 28) Being so close to freedom yet never getting there has gotten the narrator frustrated with false hope. He can not escape the clutches of his personal struggle, and can not get anyone to help him either because they dont know about it. Their frustration in not being understood is another way emotional distance is shown in these works.

In both these pieces, the characters accept their fate of never being able to emotionally connect with anyone, which leaves them feeling helpless. Charlie understands that he has never been able to connect with anyone, and never will. I passed your floor on the way up, and now Im passing it on the way down, and I dont think Ill be taking this elevator again. So lets just say goodbye here and now. (Keyes 289 290). Charlie doesnt want to make the effort of trying to connect with people. He realizes that he is too different and will never think and operate the same way other people do. In the same way, the narrator has also accepted his fate by the end of the poem. Time is running out Im going to die in here (51 52) He has recognized that there is no hope for him, no matter how hard he tries to escape from the walls he has put up himself. Terrified by his destiny, yet accepting that there is nothing he can do about it. He has distanced himself so much, that he can no longer pull on the rope for help, because no one will answer. A sad acceptance is the one that you are so far away from everyone that you are literally helpless. The protagonists in Flowers for Algernon and Childhood Trauma have always been emotionally disabled to connect with others. They both first didnt even know of their unfortunate circumstance, they were slightly confused about it. Later, they grew frustrated by the attempts at making emotional contact with people because it never seemed to work. In the end, the protagonists finally took their tragic fate of being forever distant. The dreadful feeling of being alone follows forever; it is only realized when the problem is too late to be fixed.