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Flowers For Algernon

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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is a classic science fiction set in southeastern New York, New York City. The fictitious prose traces a man's inner psychological journey within from a world of retardation to a world of great intelligence. Narrated through a series of empirical "Progress Reports", Flowers for Algernon follows the intellectual and emotional rise and fall of Charlie Gordon, a young man born with an unusually low Intelligence Quotient (IQ), as he becomes the first human pilot-study for an ambitious brain experiment. Charlie Gordon lives a life of comical, despondent and derisive experiences as he surfaces from mental darkness, through various phases of perceiving and understanding levels of knowledge into the light of complex perception of himself, the people around him and the world.

The matter that lies in the heart of Flowers for Algernon is the individual turmoil of Charlie Gordon as he struggles to be recognized and treated as a human being and the psychological discord within. Narrator and focal character Charlie Gordon, is a memorable portrait of isolation of an individual who is at odds with society and who strive to have satisfactory relationships with others. Until the age of thirty-two, Charlie has lived in somewhat of a mental twilight. Impressed by Charlie's motivation to learn, psychiatrist and neurosurgeon, Dr. Strauss and his partner Professor Nemur performs an experimental surgical procedure which triples his Intelligence Quotient of 68. Another main character of Flowers for Algernon, Alice Kinnian, a teacher at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults teaches Charlie to read and write which slowly develops into affection. However as it becomes apparent the experiment is flawed and mental deterioration is inevitable seeing that Algernon, the lab mouse who is the first animal test subject to have retained his artificially-increased aptitude becomes erratic, languid and forgetful, Charlie is once again of subnormal intelligence. The point of Flowers for Algernon is not the technology that lets Charlie becomes intelligent but rather the way people respond around him prior to and following the operation.

In Flowers for Algernon, the story bound idea of artificially altering intelligence allows Keyes to present the portrayal of society's mistreatment of the mentally disabled. As Charlie's intelligence grows, successfully transforming from a mentally retarded person to a genius, he begins to recognize that people have always based their attitudes toward him on feelings of superiority. Primarily, others have treated Charlie not only as an intellectual inferior but also as less than a human being as they are. Daniel Keyes intends his readers to realize that while some treats Charlie with outright cruelty, others have tried to be kind but eventually have been condescending in their own charity. From the quote "Sometimes somebody will say hey lookit Frank, or Joe or Gimpy. He really pulled a Charlie Gordon that time. I don't know why they say it but they always laff and I laff too." (pg.23), it shows a sharp reprimand of how the mentally deficient are treated. While the author condemns the mistreatment of the mentally disabled, he also shows the understanding of why the mistreatment happens through this citation from the Flowers for Algernon "I never knew before that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around just to make fun of me. Now I know what they mean wen they say to 'pull a Charlie Gordon'. I'm ashamed." (pg. ), enabling his readers to see through the eyes of someone who has experience such mockery firsthand.

What's more is the fact that Charlie's mental retardation changes both his emotional and intellectual development illustrates the complexity but not the impossibility of developing both facets simultaneously and without conflict. Charlie slowly progress to look at himself, his family, and his environment with new eyes and becomes his own man. In the beginning Charlie is kindhearted and trusting, but as his intelligence develops he grows self-important, cold and unpleasant. The more he becomes aware of everything around him, the more he recoils from human contact.

Charlie Gordon's way from a



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