Flowers for Algernon


Significant Quotations

1. “Prof Nemur says if it werks good and its perminent they will make other pepul like me smart also. Mabye pepul all over the werld. And he said that meens Im doing somthing grate for sience and Ill be famus and my name will go down in the books. I dont care so much about beeing famus. I just want to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends who like me.” (from Progress Report 6)

This quotation demonstrates a fundamental difference between Charlie and Professor Nemur, and ironically foreshadows events to come. Charlie’s only real concern is having friends. Ironically, being smart is what causes him to experience real alienation—to lose his job, his place of security, and the support of those who cared for him. Professor Nemur’s motivation is not to have friends, but rather to be a famous man.

When Charlie surpasses Nemur in genius, Charlie does manage to make a contribution to science, and he is proud of this even though the innocent old Charlie would not have been interested. Later, Charlie advises Nemur to laugh at himself more so that he will have more friends. This emotionally profound piece of advice comes from the low-IQ Charlie at the end of the novel, underscoring the idea that wisdom does not necessarily equal intellectual achievement. Ultimately, both things do matter—accomplishment and friendship—but achievement should not come at the expense of human connection.

2. “The more intelligent you become the more problems you'll have, Charlie. Your intellectual growth is going to outstrip your emotional growth. And I think you'll find that as you progress, there will be many things you'll want to talk to me about.” (Dr. Strauss speaking, Progress Report 9)

This quotation foreshadows what does indeed happen to Charlie, and it underscores one of the central themes of the book, the need for balance between emotion and intellect. Charlie cannot be—and, for that matter, nor should any human be—reduced to...

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Essays About Flowers for Algernon