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Flowers for Algernon, written by Daniel Keyes, is a book that is an emotional roller coaster. This book includes science that one day might not be fictional but may come true and will be able to be used on people who have intellectual disabilities in today's world.
The book starts with a man, who is mentally retarded, writing in a journal about them using him in a surgery used to change him for the better. This mans name is Charlie Gordon. He is the kind of man who works hard to achieve only little accomplishments and never gives up. He desperately wants to become smart so he can communicate and live just like everyone else does. Charlie wants this operation so he can be smart and prove to everyone he isn't like he used to be.
"Gimpy hollers at me all the time when I do something rong, but he reely likes me because hes my frend. Boy if I get smart won't he be surprised." (p 5)
Charlie writes this down into his progress report and proves that he wants to please everyone by being smart.
The scientists first try this experiment on a mouse to see if it might work. The mouse did improve on how fast he learned and was made smarter every time the scientists taught the mouse something new. Since the experiment was a success they decided to begin to test Charlie to see if he was the right type of person . They begin with tests such as inkblot, raw shok test, and they had him race the mouse named Algernon, by seeing who was able to complete the same maze first. The scientists finally decide Charlie is the perfect subject for the experiment due to his motivation and his eagerness to be smart. As Charlie's IQ begins to grow so does his ability to understand how cruel the world around him really is. While Charlie's knowledge grows, his attitude changes along with those around him. Charlie loses his job, friends, happiness, and even his willing to care or learn. On the contrary of things, Charlie also experiences and learns a lot from this experiment. He experiences love, freedom, being able to read and write, and the ability to be able to remember what has happened to him all of these years.
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" Now I understand one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that all the things you've believed in all your life aren't true, and that nothing is what it appears to be." (p 71)
Throughout the end of the story, Charlie begins to go back to the way he used to be. His only true friend in the world, Algernon, passes on from complications and Charlie is left with having to move into the Warren Home School.
Charlie changed dramatically in this book. He went from not knowing what was going on in the world to becoming a genius. Charlie was the kind of person that desperately tried to become smart by working hard everyday but when he did have the operation, he became too smart for his own good and therefore it lead to his bitterness of being used as a genie pig. He starts to scare his friends and the people who love him by gaining so much intelligence in a short period of time. Charlie begins to scare Alice, who he loves, by becoming a different person. She states:
" Already you've gone beyond my intellectual reach. In a few months or even weeks you'll be a different person. When you mature intellectually, we may not be able to communicate. When you mature emotionally, you may not even want me." (p 92-93)
The experiment changed Charlie by being a hard working, caring person to being a lonely, confused person. At the end of the book, Charlie realizes that he was glad to have the operation all along. He states in his progress report:
"I'm glad I got a second chanse in life like you said to be smart because I lerned a lot of things that I never even new were in this werld and Im grateful I saw it all even for alittle bit. And Im glad I found out all about my family and me. It was like I never had a family til I remembird about them and saw them and now I know I had a family and I was a person just like everyone." (p 310)
In my own opinion, I believe this operation had a good side but also a bad side to it. The good side was that Charlie finally realized what was going on in the world. He experience what all human beings go through and actually was able to remember everything he learned. Charlie was able to pick out friends who don't put him down and who he can trust. He was also able to write, read, have true relationships with people, and fall in love for the first time.
The negative side to this operation, I believe, is it made Charlie above and beyond smart, killing all of the good things he had in his life. The operation killed his happiness, he felt lonely all the time, had sex with someone who meant nothing to him, and was very confused about the world around him. Before his operation, Charlie didn't remember all the awful things people did to him when he was growing up to present day. Charlie had no help adjusting emotionally to all of these things, so it was hard for him to readjust to the changes. When Charlie did this, he wasn't the same person as he used to be.
I believe that the scientists were also in this to help themselves by getting all of the glory for performing this operation on an actual human being. With success comes greed and wanting more glory. It seemed like these scientists are trying to play God and change Charlie from who he was to a genius. In the book, Charlie writes about his nurse in his progress report. " And she said mabey they got no rite to make me smart because if god wanted me to be smart he would have made me born that way." (p 16) Charlie experienced life for the first time and was able to live a normal life for a short period.
This book opened my eyes to show me how a person with mental retardation acts, thinks, writes and feels. The writer puts the reader in Charlie's position and shows what he has gone through in his lifetime. He was teased, thrown in the dirt, laughed at and hurt just because he was different from everyone else. The story made me feel like I wanted to become a better person by not calling other people names and to stop taking so much things for granted in my life. I realized, while I was reading this book, that my life is important and I should not waste it and keep trying by giving everything my very best. This story was a real wake up call for me and my life.
Flowers for Algernon, was the most inspiring and emotional book that I have ever read. The author makes you wonder if the operation really was worth Charlie getting hurt and ending up the way he was before. In conclusion, I feel that he should have had the operation so he would be able to experience what, we as human beings, go through and have him be able to understand it. Everyone has the right to know what is really going on in the world.