Flowers for Algernon
Written by Daniel Keyes
32-year-old Charlie Gordon just wants to fit in.
Being mentally retarded makes this a little difficult. With an IQ of 68, he's aware that he's not a genius, but he's determined to become smart. So when opportunity knocks, in the form of a groundbreaking science discovery, proven to make animals more intelligent but never before tried on a human, Charlie doesn't hesitate to open the door.
Through mazes against a mouse, emotional turmoils, a tripling IQ, and friendships collapsing, can Charlie keep his determined attitude? Is being smarter worth losing the ability to socialize?
Sometimes, naivety is a good thing.
"What did you expect? Did you think I'd remain the docile pup, wagging my tail and licking the foot that kicks me? I no longer have to take the kind of crap people have been handing me all my life," (Keyes 123)
"If your smart you can have lots of frends to talk to and you never get lonely by yourself all the time," (Keyes 15)
When he goes to visit his mother, he tells her, "You've got to understand, I'm not the same as I was. I've changed. I'm normal now. Don't you understand? I'm not retarded any more. I'm normal - just like you and Matt and Norma," (Keyes 263). This not only shows that his mother was one of the reasons he wanted to be smarter, but also says something about how others thought of him when he was younger.
After the operation, Charlie learns many different things that teach him about his life, before and after the operation, along with what might happen to him in the future. He got to see his family again, giving him some of the closure he needed and putting some of his memories to rest. He learned to appreciate what he had, instead of wishing for something better.
In the beginning, all Charlie really wanted was to be smarter. He thinks that if he's smarter, everyone will like him more and he will have more friends. As the story continues, he finds out that he was wrong.
This was a very important thing for Charlie to learn. He figured out that having more isn't always better. This was an important experience for Charlie because if he had never been a part of this experiment, he would still think that the most important thing in life was to be smart.
Closer to the end of the book, when Charlie tells us, "...dont be sorry for me. Im glad I got a second chanse like you said to be smart because I lerned alot of things that I never even new were in this werld and Im grateful I saw it all even for a little bit," (Keyes 310). I think this is a really good point for Charlie to make because it shows that he doesn't think that being smart is not the most important thing in the world. He is a very good example of someone who doesn't appreciate what he already has.
The only thing that I might have changed was how suddenly the book seemed to end. It wasn't really an ending, which made sense in some ways, but almost seemed like there should have been more to it.
I think anyone would enjoy this book and there are many important lessons that you can learn from reading it. The book is written really well, with very realistic characters and an easy story to follow. Reading the story puts you into the life of Charlie Gordon and shows how 'different' people are treated.
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Pickrell, Michelle. "Plot Summary." IMDb. IMDb.com, 20 Feb. 2000. Web. 12 May 2016.
Teen Ink., Musicisthegoodlife. "Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes." Teen Ink. TeenInk, 14 June 2014. Web. 12 May 2016
Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966. Print.
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