Flowers for Algernon


Key Facts

Title: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keyes

Type of Book: Novel

Genre: Science fiction

Original Language: English

Where and When Written: New York City. Original short story version published in 1959. Expanded into a novel between 1962 and 1965.

Date of First Publication: Novel version published in 1966

Narrator: Charlie Gordon, a developmentally disabled 32-year-old man who agrees to an experimental surgery which increases his intelligence. The novel is composed of his progress reports documenting his experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Point of View: First-person limited, through the eyes of Charlie Gordon.

Tense: Past, although when Charlie records his childhood flashbacks, he often writes in the present tense.

Protagonist: Charlie Gordon

Time in which novel is set: Though it is never stated, the reader may infer that the novel takes place in the mid-1960s.

Place in which novel is set: New York City, NY; briefly, Chicago, IL

Primary Conflict: Charlie Gordon struggles with the results of his surgery, a rapid increase in his intelligence and an entirely new emotional perspective on life. He only has a short time to live as a genius before a flaw in the surgery causes him to regress back to his original state.

Climax: Angry with Dr. Nemur and others for not treating him like a human being, Charlie causes chaos at a major psychology convention in Chicago. He snatches up Algernon, the lab mouse with whom he identifies, and hides from the scientists who have performed his surgery. When Charlie realizes that he must join with the scientists again to help discover the flaw in his surgery, he also begins to accept his own...

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