BOOKS: Flowers For Algernon

I was wondering what parents thought of the book: Flowers For Algernon? It is on the book list for my daughter going into 8th grade. I feel it is more of a High School level R/T sexuality, even though it is on book lists for Middle School. I have read the book and feel my daughter is not at the maturity level to read it. I have to go against Administration in a Cathlic school.

I read it in 8th grade and don’t remember anything objectionable about it. If there are passing sexual references, they are overshadowed by the profoundly sad ending. :frowning: But you know your daughter best and if you feel she is not ready for this, your vote is the only one that counts. :thumbsup: Go mom!

I read that years ago, it’s a classic piece of science-fiction and shows the genre is capable of producing work of extremely high literary value. There’s nothing objectionable in it I could recall either and yes it does have a very sad climax.

I read the book in high school, and, to me, it seems more appropriate for that age group. I do remember a rather descriptive sex scene in the book. It wasn’t graphic in a pornographic sense, but it painted a visual image that I still remember fifteen years later (something about their bodies melting together). Of course, that could have just been my adolescent mind purposefully filling in the blanks. :blush:

In any case, you read the book and you know your daughter, so I think you’re qualified to say whether or not you want her to read it. :slight_smile:

It’s a great book, though.

Now…I read the book in 7th grade (a loooong time ago) and last year at my son’s school, some parents were objecting to it. They passed out an exherpt that had some sexual innuendo. I didn’t remember that at all when I was in 7th grade. Which is odd…because that would have been something I would have remembered.:wink:

My question is…could there be 2 versions of the book?

The one I remember i about Charlie, who was somewhat mentally average, participates in an experiment to boost his intelligence. Algernon, the mouse, goes through the same experiment. The book touches on Charlie’s alienation from others as he goes through his metamorphosis. I remember one scene in particular, that his co-workers were teasing him…and Charlie was to naive to understand they were making fun of him

Good call! I would not have thought of this. I did a quick google search, and Wikipedia discusses it. Apparently, it was first published as a short story (in 1959) and later expanded and published as a novel (in 1966). The novel is where the sexual stuff comes up.

No wonder there seems to be a diversity amongst the responses. I thought I was going crazy for remembering the sex scene!

Well, I guess the first thing for the OP to do would be to find out if the kids are supposed to read the novel or just the short story.

I was wondering about that too. When I read it, it was in our Catholic school literature anthology, which I still have. I will dig it out tomorrow but I am betting it is either the 1959 version or an abridgement.

I read the original version, which was published as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The short story seemed just the right length and suitable for nearly all ages.

There is no way that the full novel version should be read to or by school students of any age. It contains outright smut, and encourages fornication, including fornication/adultery with a divorced woman. There are inappropriate depictions which do NOTHING to enhance the story.

The short story, however, is safe for 8th graders to read, however, if I recall. So, the issue would be to find out which one is being presented to your daughter.

I knew it sounded familiar. I read it years ago and couldn’t imagine why anyone would object - It was the short story that I read.

Since it was a complete masterpiece as a short story, I guess one could only make it novel length by adding pornography. :frowning:

It’s not pornographic - happyperson is been a little bit over the top therel. Authors are not obliged to make their characters act in only moral ways. The two main characters are essentially lonely people, their relationship is not by any means the ideal one but to categorise it as pornography would be a step too far. In fact the main character as I recall has a dubious relationship based only on lust at one point which is characterised as immature and shallow.

I read it in high school (there was even a school play on it), but I don’t remember any innuendos. Maybe we didn’t use that other version. :shrug:


I read the short story. He should’ve left well enough alone.

If you had a daughter in 8th grade, would you want her to read a graphic depiction of a nocturnal emission? Would you want her to read about a divorced woman who was sexually promiscuous with the main character?

I didn’t use the term “pornography,” I said, “smut.” That is what it is. Pornography would suggest that it would turn someone on, which is not likely to happen. Rather, it’s just gross.

I read books as ‘graphic’ as Flowers for Algernon at that age and during secondary school here on my own time. I also though do not unquestioningly copy behaviour just because it is in a book and neither will kids if given some guidance, they are not pre-programmable robots. They can be influenced certainly but they also have their own minds.

I find the whole ‘violent video games , immoral books etc. are ruining our kids’ type of thinking shallow. Kids are not little angels and nearly all kids games have elements of violence in already and kids can be really nasty little buggers despite the fact that we adults try and overlook that.

I myself read the full novel Flowers for Algernon in first or second grade, and oh yes, it moved me to tears of both wonder and joy. I learned immense lessons about compassion, humility, and living the best you can while you can. I -needed- those messages, and I should hope someone nearing 8th grade is more than ready for what treasures this book has to offer, in either full or shortened form.

As to the ‘sexuality’ objections, they didn’t bother me at that age or any other - they made the protagonist more human, and once he has a true intellect and sense of social morality, he deals with it appropriately too, rather than sliding into over-scrupulosity and fear, he understands that such is how the body functions. And if your daughter is in late 7th or about to start 8th grade, chances are she’s had some experience with her own ‘nocturnal emissions’ as well (yes, females have them too) since menarche is very likely any time now! :o

Eheh, sorry to be the bearer of a little traumatic news there, perhaps, but it deals with the flesh as it is, natural and no sin.

It is a beautiful and heartbreaking read, as well as groundbreaking. At that age, don’t discourage discovery, please! Now is the very best time of all to read and learn and grow, though all times are wonderful.

We read, acted and watched the play version of the book. I know know if it had innudendos, but if it did, it was certainly over my head. (I still don’t know what “nocturnal emmisions” are - but I assume it’s something other than wetting ones’ bed due to lack of bowel control. :p)

Another option, if it’s the novel and not the short story, is for the OP to tell her daughter there a sexual passage in the book, and she can just skip that part when she reads it. This what I told my precocious daughter when she began reading adult science fiction/fantasy in second grade. Her daughter is not far from the age where she will have to make important choices. A little practice in something so small -choosing to read or not to read a passage in a book- is not a bad place to start.

So we should just hand them over to the smut and slash peddlers? :rolleyes:

I guess it’s okay for them to raise themselves. Ever hear of Lord of the Flies?

Fat lot of leg you have to stand on, oh fan of jidaigeki. ;p (yes I do speak very fluent otaku and even classical Japanese literature, and can even watch japanese television raw when i’m in practice…give me an hour and I’m not at all bad at it @@; )

There’s loads of slash and gore and sex in the jidaigeki tradition (of which Kenshin is a gentler yet very traditional form), and I surely do include Kenshin, both as a character and the series in manga and animated, which I am indeed favorably inclined to. The title character IS an assassin and a fanatic, after all, but a little older and wiser now…and even when he is reformed, he sure does enjoy the occasional pornographic posters and what have you, and sure has a thing for the young ladies indeed!

And he never does lose that killer instinct either, and his past does have some rather shocking, however subtle, implications during even his early training. Yet he is more complex than a mere bundle of neuroses/psychoses by far.

I’m not chastising, merely trying to soften the hard-line censorship that so many people seem to insist upon without self-examination. After all, what may seem like potential damage has at least as much potential for true human understanding…I don’t care to speculate whether many who call themselves Roman Catholics agree, but I do often wish, wistfully, that perhaps being more Catholic and less Roman might be a good suggestion. Laughter and curiosity and introspection are poor soil for evil to flourish.

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