Flowers For Algernon


The novel, "Flowers For Algernon" written by Daniel Keys,
has an unusual plot. Charlie Gordon, the main character, is
a gentle, amiable, oddly engaging young man. Until the age
of thirty-two, he had lived in a kind of mental twilight.
He knew knowledge was important and had learned to read and
write after a fashion. He also knew that he wasn't nearly
as bright as most of the people around him. At one point he
hears about an operation that had been performed on a mouse
which increased his intelligence. When Charlie tries to
match his mental ability with that of the mouse, he
realizes that the mouse is far brighter than he. This
starts him thinking about a similar operation for himself.
The main characters of the story are Charlie, who is a
mentally retarded individual involved in a remarkable
experiment which increased his IQ, Alice, a teacher at the
special education faculty at Beekman College who taught
Charlie how to read and write, the professors who performed
the experiment on Charlie, Fay, one of Charlie's
acquaintances which he meets as the book progresses, and
last but not least Algernon.
The novel is exciting and contains very original material.
The moods which are created are ones of sorrow, anger, and
guilt. One of the elements of the story which contributes
greatly to the mood the reader experiences would be the
plot. In the story, Charlie, is subject to an experiment
which increases his intelligence in hopes of knowing more
in the soul purpose of impressing people to gain friends.
Unfortunately some of his anticipations were not met.
The main characters in the novel include Charlie, Alice,
Algernon, and Fay, a character who did not make much of an
appearance, but in my eyes believed, that she played a very
important part in Charlie's involvement in trying to sort
out his past and figure out his present and future plans.
Charlie is a mentally retarded person who feels that
impressing people and gaining friends is a top priority. He
hears about an experiment which could possibly make him
smart and volunteers for a special brain related operation. 

As the book progresses, Charlie goes through dramatic
changes mentally, but instead of achieving his goal, he
actually is looked on in the same way if not worse. For
example, at Charlie's old work his "friends" made fun of
him and enjoyed his company just because Charlie had amused
them. Yet after the operation, Charlie discovers that he
had not made his friends like him more, but instead had
pushed them away. Charlie realizes what his "friends" had
done to him in the past, and starts to look down upon them. 

Alice, Charlie's teacher, is the person who introduced
Charlie to the idea of giving the experiment a chance. She
believes that Charlie has the determination, desire, and
will-power to make the experiment work. Later on in the
book, she gets emotionally involved with Charlie and helps
Charlie learn more about himself. 

Algernon, is a lab animal who also underwent the experiment
and it has made him smarter than the average mouse.
Algernon plays a very important part in the novel because
he represents Charlie and foreshadows what will happen to
Charlie later on in the book. 

Fay, is an artist who certainly has views on life which can
be rarely found in an individual. As the book progresses,
Fay, helps Charlie reveal his physical and emotional
There are many exciting events which occur in the book, but
the one which was the most memorable for me was when
Charlie was trying to find what had gone wrong in the
experiment before the inevitable happened to him. After he
discovered what had gone wrong and started to descend the
escalator of intelligence, he made several desperate
attempts to try to walk up on the escalator that was going
The only thing that I do not agree with is the conclusion
of the novel. If I would make a change I would write about
what happened with the experiment after Charlie Gordon's
death. An example of this would be possible progress and
success in the field, or maybe because of the events which
had occurred in the past in this field, it was given up for
dead, or maybe Fay or Alice had conceived a child which in
turn leads into a sequel. 

The novel, "Flowers For Algernon", is an excellent book to
read because it makes one think of how a mentally retarded
person feels. This book has made me realize how lucky I am. 


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