How did the treatment that Charlie received as a child from his mother affect him as an adult?

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As Charlie Gordon begins to show signs of outstanding improvement in terms of his intelligence, an unexpected and ironic side effect begins to show itself: he is finally able to contextualize all of the terrible abuses that he has suffered due to his mental disability. For the most part, Charlie had previously only been able to imagine those around him with the same good nature that he possesses. He begins to see, however, the abusive behavior that has been present his whole life. It is patronizing at the best of times and severely degrading at the worst. Most of all, he is deeply shaken by the treatment of his mother during his childhood.

Rose Gordon is portrayed as a hysterical and irrational woman, refusing to accept Charlie's mental disability. She forces him to play with alphabet blocks when he doesn't understand them, and she is severe when he makes mistakes. Most of all, she seems absolutely revolted when Charlie shows any signs of being a sexual being, as she seems to think that sex is a concept that is too adult for Charlie to ever grasp. Even after he becomes a genius, this causes him relive the harsh beatings given to him by his mother for ever showing interest in women. Even with extraordinary intellect, Charlie has incredible trouble connecting romantically due to the the trauma he received from his mother.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 6, 2019
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