Flowers For Algernon

By : Clara Wicinski

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“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”

- Daniel Keyes, Flowers For Algernon


  • In the novel, “ Flowers For Algernon, “ a thirty-two year old man named Charlie Gordon has disabilities and is not able to comprehend simple topics and function in society like common people. While Charlie is attending school he is asked by Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur to let them operate on his brain so he can become very intelligent. The surgery is a success but, Charlie has some trouble adjusting to his new way of life and goes through the same process as Algernon, a mouse who had the same operation as Charlie. Eventually, Charlie becomes so bright that individuals start to become intimidated by his presence and he goes through even more hardships. Eventually, Algernon dies and Charlie realizes he is slowly losing his impeccable abilities and the old Charlie starts to shine through. Finally, the unintelligent Charlie takes control of the modern Charlie and he is back to his old ways of thinking, speaking, and writing. The author of the book, Daniel Keyes, states, “ Even a feeble-minded man wants to be like other men. A child may not know how to feed itself, or what to eat, yet it knows, " ( Keyes 127 )

Character Analysis

  • Charlie Gordon, the main character in the novel, has many character traits. First of all, Charlie is a thirty-two year old male who has two sides to him in the novel. In addition, the old Charlie is very unintelligent and does not know how to function in society while the new Charlie is sharp-witted and is more advanced in knowledge than anyone else he knows. Furthermore, Charlie has a family who he doesn't communicate much due to the abuse his mother inflicted and he also has a love interest named Alice Kinnian, a teacher who helped the old Charlie. Daniel Keyes states, " You can't put up a new building on a site until you destroy the old one, and the old Charlie can't be destroyed, " ( Keyes 129 )
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" Flowers For Algernon 1968 "

Cliff Robertson playing as Charlie Gordon

Conflict / Resolution

  • While the intelligent Charlie started transitioning back into his old self he began to have severe depression and was emotionally exhausted from trying to suppress the old Charlie from taking over. The conflict of the matter was character vs. self because inside Charlie's mind and body he was having a war with his old self that kept decreasing his knowledge and functionality slowly but surely. Daniel Keyes states, " The operation had covered him over with a veneer of education and culture, but emotionally he was there- watching and waiting, " ( Keyes 125 ) The conflict is adverted but, not in a very buoyant way because the old Charlie wins the war and he goes back to his common ways of not being able to function in common life.


  • One of the themes in " Flowers For Algernon " is to be grateful for you ability to learn and comprehend subjects. First of all, Daniel Keyes states, " I'm glad I got a second chance to be smart because I learned a lot of things that I never even knew were in this world and I'm grateful that I saw it all even for a little bit, " ( Keyes 198 ) In addition, I feel as if Charlie learned that he values being able to be educated a whole lot more than he did when he was disabled and he struggled to learn. The readers can take away a whole new understanding of valuing education and being able to function in a society without being judged.

Textual Evidence

  • My favorite quote from the novel that I thought was very powerful was on page 182 that states, " Not of life, or death, or nothingness, but of wasting it as if I have never been, " I personally think this really jumped off the page for me because the meaning behind it means to do what makes you happy so at the end you don't feel like you wasted it and didn't make an impact. This quote is so important because I feel like people should not sit and watch the world go by when they could be changing it for the benefit for everyone.

Book Review

  • From my personal view and opinion, I would give " Flowers For Algernon " a four out of five stars for many reasons. First of all, the author of the novel, Daniel Keyes, did an excellent job on writing in both unintelligent and knowledgeable Charlie's point of view which made a unique writing style choice. In addition, the thorough scientific research and theories presented in the story were very well executed and sensible to a point that the operation on Charlie on seemed very real. Furthermore, I would not give the book a full five stars because it was quite dull and uninteresting in the beginning and as a reader you really need to have patience when you go through it. Although, I gave " Flowers For Algernon " four out of five stars, it was very well written and I would only recommend it for certain individuals.
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Flowers for Algernon Trailer


  • Tim Davis. "Flowers For Algernon Trailer." Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 May 2016.
  • Clark, Janet. " Cliffnotes on Flowers For Algernon. " cliffnotes. webMD, n.d. web. 12 May 2016.
  • Cline, Brent. "The Evolution of Pity to Horror in Daniel Keyes's Flowers for Algernon. " DSQ. webMD, n.d. web. 12 May 2016.
  • " Flowers For Algernon Quotes. " Pinterest. webMD. n.d. web. 12 May 2016.
  • " Charlie Gordon Twitter Profile. " Twitter. webMD. 9 May 2012. web. 12 May 2016.
  • Nichols Strangway. " Flowers For Algernon Prezi. " Prezi. webMD. n.d. web. 12 May 2016.

  • Keyes, Daniel. Flowers For Algernon. New York : Harcourt, 1959. print.