Flowers For Algernon

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Book Summary

Flowers For Algernon is about a person named Charlie Gordon, who has a very low IQ for a thirty year old. He undergoes an operation overseen by Professor Nemur to make him very smart. Not known by him, his family kicked him out at an early age. At first Charlie shows little improvement and still is very illiterate. After about a week he starts to progress and becoming more intelligent . As he becomes smarter his friends at the bakery are jealous and don't like him anymore,so he gets fired and is very torn because the bakery was his whole life. As Charlie says in his progress reports,"It had been all right as long as they could laugh at me and appear clever at my expense, but now they were feeling inferior to a moron.I began to see the astonishing growth I had made them shrink and emphasized and inadequacies. I had betrayed them, and they hated me for it." PG 74. Once he was fired from the bakery he focused on his progression with Professor Nemur. He also is preparing for a convention in Chicago of all for the nearby collages to show off their discoveries. Once Charlie arrives in Chicago he realizes Nemur doesn't treat him like a human. As the presentation started Charlie's emotions rise and he escapes freeing Algernon in the process. After he escapes him and Algernon go to New York and he studies Algernon's behavior. Noticing that Alergnon's cooperation is limited now Charlie tries to help him and about a week later Algernon dies leaving Charlie alone. When Charlie is alone he discovers a theory called the Gordon Algernon theory and it states that as fast as you gain your artificial intelligence you will loose it. As he gets the theory approved by Professor Nemur he realizes the truth that he will become stupid again once he discovered it Charlie has peaked and began to decline intelligence he visits his mom and sister to see them before he looses all memory of them. In his final days of being smart he is alone and eventually goes back to the bakery as if it all was a dream.
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Charlie Gordon

Charlie Gordon stared off as a rejected person with a very abnormally low IQ. Although he is not an intelligent person, people love him at the bakery because he is so down to earth and kind to everyone. Once he undergoes the operation he becomes really smart really fast. Like on page 22 he finally overcomes Algernon," I beet Algernon. I didn't even know I beet him until Burt Selden told me. The second time I lost because I got so excited. I beet him eight more times. I must be getting smart to beet a smart mouse like Algernon. But I don't feel smarter. " Although he was smart he still hasn't socially developed fully so he is very awkward when he talks to people. In the book he doesn't talk about his physical condition, only his mental condition. Even though he is not the most social or physically talented he still is very smart because of the operation.
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Conflict Resolution

In Flowers For Algernon there are two conflicts man vs. self and man vs. society. I choose man vs. self because Charlie has very low intelligence and he gets chosen for a science experiment to make him smart. Once it works Charlie is smart and appears to overcome his low intelligence, then he starts to loose his intelligence and memories and created the Gordon Algernon theory. The theory states on page 177 that,"Artificially -introduced intelligence deteriorates at the rate of time directly proportional to the quantity of the increase. " The reason I think it is man vs. self because he is constantly fighting himself to be smart. The theme is also man vs. society because when Charlie is dumb everyone takes advantage of him for it. For the rest of the book Charlie will stick up for people getting picked on like him. In my book there are two very different themes that fit great into the book.


My theme for Flowers For Algernon is friends are one of the most important things in live. I believe that because at the beginning he got a job at the bakery because his family wanted him to have a life so they sent him to his uncle who employed him at the bakery. As he was there he was very well loved because he did all the things that no one would do. Once he started to get smarter he made the others at the bakery feel inferior. Shortly after he reaches New York he meets Fay and becomes friends with her. Once he starts to loose his intelligence he also is regretting how he made people feels when he was smart. In his final days of being smart he wants to be alone. Then he becomes dumb again and goes back to the bakery and meets his old friends. At the bakery a new employee picks on Charlie and all of his old friends stick up for him and get the guy fired. Even though Charlie had rough times he always had someone to turn to in tough times and that's why you have friends.

Textual Evidence

To me the most powerful part of Flowers For Algernon is when Charlie gets smart and gains his memory back and starts to realize that the world is cruel to people with disabilities. In this part of the book he stands up for a kid that was working at a dinner when he dropped dishes all on the floor. Then the people started to make fun of the kid, but Charlie stood up for the kid and left the dinner. Also when he looks back at his past and realizes what he had been through and how people had picked on him. My favorite quote was, " What did you expect? Did you think I'd remain a docile pup, wagging my tail and licking the foot that kicks me? I no longer have to take the kind of crap that people have been handing me all my life." Keys PG 85. This quote shows how Charlie is mad at the people that have taken advantage of him and he is very upset about it. I think this is my favorite part of the book because it is a very powerful section of the book.

Book Review

I would give Flowers For Algernon a five out of five because it was always entertaining and never boring. I think that Daniel Keys showed a lot of emotion through out the book. Also the overall story of the book is a great concept to write a book about. The book has many developed characters that show emotional feelings and thoughts. Flowers For Algernon is a overall five star book.

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