Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon features Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded thirty-two-year-old man. He is chosen by a team of scientists to undergo an experimental surgery designed to boost his intelligence. Alice Kinnian, Charlie’s teacher at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults, has recommended Charlie for the experiment because of his exceptional eagerness to learn. The directors of the experiment, Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur, ask Charlie to keep a journal. The entire narrative of Flowers for Algernon is composed of the “progress reports” that Charlie writes.
The author Daniel Keyes wrote Flowers for Algernon with a degree in psychology under his belt. This degree in psychology aided Keyes in making his character Charlie more complex. Without knowing psychology Keyes wouldn’t have been able to fully understand the human mind and its functions to the extent that allowed him to create Charlie. Another factor in making Charlie’s character development more interesting was Keyes’ experience in teaching two modified English classes for lower I.Q. students. This experience assisted Keyes by granting him the knowledge on mental retardation and general learning disabilities. Knowing the disorder and knowing it how affects the brain made creating Charlie more simple. The final important factor in making Charlie complex was Daniel Keyes’ idea on artificially increasing human intelligence. Even though it is more fiction than the other factors it still played an important role in allowing Charlie to an intricate character. These factors allowed Charlie to not be a regular patient suffering from mental disabilities.
Flowers for Algernon was heavily influenced by the author’s exceptional interest in psychology. The interest in psychology allowed for idea of tampering with human intelligence a reality, at least in terms of creating the book. The idea of increasing intelligence also made Charlie’s experiment have a very unexpected outcome. Daniel Keyes...
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