Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes


Charlie Gordan is a 32-year-old retard man who gets the opportunity to become smart by getting an experimental operation that has only worked on a mouse named Algernon. Once he got the operation he started to get smarter by the day. soon the Charlie Gordan who could not write and was alway made fun of without knowing becomes the Charlie Gordon who could "speak twenty languages, living and dead"(Daniel Keyes 187). Through the story, he develops feeling between two women and, his personality starts to change. He also starts having vivid childhood flashback of his home and how he was treated. He only gets to live with this intelligence for a short period of time as eventually he reverts to his old self.

Character Analysis-Charlie Gordan

In the begging of the book, Charlie is mostly cheerful and eager but is easily frighten. As he gains intelligence he becomes more insightful and he says "the farther I go the more I see that I never knew even existed"(Daniel Keyes 153). He now knows if people are messing with him or being nice because they know that he is inferior in intelligence.He then started to have very depressing memories of his childhood and how his mom was very harsh on him. His new intelligence distances his society just like he was before he was intelligent. Eventually, before he reverts back to his retardation he forgave his family and was given love. When he reverted he still remember that he was smart and hope one day to be smart again.

Conflict-Character vs. Society

The biggest conflict in the book would be Charlie Gordon vs. Society. When he was dumb he has easily manipulated him and laughed at him. In one part of the book, his "friends" wrote a dirty note to his crush and put it under his name and her brother went and beat him up. In the book "Charlie's friends come running screaming and clapping hands: "Fight! Fight! They're beating up Charlie!" (Daniel Keyes 54). Even when he became intelligent he made other people feel inferior which distanced him from society just bad as when he was dumb.


When he starts to lose his intelligence and get to the intellectual level of a normal person. he was given love and was being treated nicely. Once he was back to his original retardation he was accepted back to the bakery and was treated better by the people who were mean to him.

Authors message/Theme

A theme in the book Flowers for Algernon is that you should treat everyone with respect regardless of their mental disabilities. Charlie Gordon had a mental disability that made him severely mentally challenged. People knew that he was inferior and took advantage of him. An example would As he grew more intelligent he started to act like how people treated him. An example was when he went to warren home and was horrified by how the to disable people acted and could not show and warmth or compassion to them. The Author want to be aware that society needs to show warmth and compassion to people who are mentally challenged instead of abusing them and making them less of a human being then they are.

Textual evidence

“But I've learned that intelligence alone doesn't mean a damned thing. Here in your university, intelligence, education, knowledge, have all become great idols. But I know now there's one thing you've all overlooked: intelligent and education that hasn't been tempered by human affection isn't worth a damn...Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love...Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis.”
Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

I like this quote because it shows that intelligence does not always get you anything. Intelligence does not also always give you human affection. When a man seeks knowledge he loses his sense of compassion towards people. Having knowledge with the absents of love and affection can break a person. The person emotions and feeling will deteriorate until they are a hollow shell of knowledge. This quote is very important and shows how when mankind treats people who are mentally challenge compared to the rest of the world who is not.

Flowers for Algernon a 5/5

I usually am the person that loves fantasy and adventure. I never really got into science fiction but I enjoyed Flowers for Algernon. I love how Keyes shows how Charlie develops in Flowers for Algernon. It shows how charlie has developed because in the beginning. Grammar, Punctuation and spelling error we made on purpose to show how Charlie is not that intelligent. Throughout the book, it shows how Charlie's grammar, punctuation, and spelling improve and he also shows how mental and emotionally charlie change. I like the story and the ending was pretty sad but was the icing on the cake of this story. The only thing that I did not like was that the relationship between Fay and Charlie was weird. I also thought it was kind of hard to understand what was going on from one part to another. Flowers for Algernon is a great science fiction that shows what intelligence can do to people who gain it. This is book overall has a good plot and theme and that I recommend anyone to read this book.
"Disabled" - A Short Documentary


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made by Gabriel Richner