Flowers for Algernon
In his novel, Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, tells the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded 32 year old man. An experimental surgery takes him from the darkness of stupidity, into the bright light of intelligence only to force him back into the dark. Enabling him to achieve a state if higher intelligence is thought to be an improvement of Charlie’s life. If it really is for the better becomes uncertain. Before the operation, Charlie’s intelligence and emotions are balanced. After the procedure, they are out of proportion. “There was something in you [Charlie] before… a warmth, an openness, a kindness… with all your intelligence and knowledge, there are differences” (122).As he becomes more knowledgeable Charlie remembers horrific scenes from his childhood. He realizes that in the past he was the laughing stock of his peers. Also, he gains a better insight into the complexity of the world around him. This emotional fallout begs the question whether intelligence and knowledge equal happiness and contentment.
To be intelligent is Charlie’s biggest dream as a retarded person. “…maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart” (1). He hopes that being smart will make him normal, and allow him to make friends and be liked by everyone. He yearns to be an equal to his coworkers. But after the successful operation, the now very intelligent Charlie experiences that having a higher I.Q. is not only an advantage. He has flashbacks of his dysfunctional family. He suddenly understands that his coworkers who he thought were his friends were actually making fun of him. Also, with his newly gained brainpower, he realizes that the people around him are not always good and law abiding citizens.
As a mentally retarded person, Charlie does not remember much about his past. “…my uncle Herman who use to take care of me is ded and I dont rimember about my familie [sic]” (4). But once he gains brainpower, he also regains the memory of his...
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