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"At first when I got to Marks Street I thought I had made a mistake. It wasn't the way I remembered it at all. It was a filthy street. Vacant lots where many of the houses had been torn down. On the sidewalk, a discarded refrigerator with its face ripped off, and on the curb an old mattress with wire intestines hanging out of its belly. Some houses had boarded up windows, and others looked more like patched-up shanties than homes."
"There were no children playing on Marks Street not at all like the mental picture I had brought with me of children everywhere, and Charlie watching them through the front window (strange that most of my memories of the street are framed by the window, with me always inside watching the children play)."
"As I approached the house, I had a second shock. My mother was on the front stoop, in an old brown sweater, washing the ground floor windows from the outside even though it was cold and windy. Always working to show the neighbors what a good wife and mother she was. The most important thing had always been what other people thought-appearances before herself or her family. And righteous about it. Time and again Matt had insisted that what others thought about you wasn't the only thing in life. But it did no good. Norma had to dress well; the house had to have fine furniture; Charlie had to be kept inside so that other people wouldn't know anything was wrong."
"Seeing her face made me tremble, but it was not the face I had struggled
so hard to recall. Her hair had become white and streaked with iron, and the, flesh of her thin cheeks was wrinkled. Perspiration made her forehead glisten."
Flowers for Algernon