Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon

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     Flowers for Algernon is the diary of a retarded boy called Charlie Gordon.
Charlie wants to read and write like all the other people he knows, so he agrees to
participate in an experiment. Charlie has to take creative tests to determine if he is
intelligent or really retarded. Charlie does not do well on the tests, so he is chosen as
their first human subject for the experiment. The doctors have already done experiments
on a mouse called Algernon. He is much smarter than other mice because he has had an
operation. Charlie agrees to have the operation and his intelligence almost triples.
Charlie and Algernon develop a special friendship because they spend a lot of time doing
tests together.
     Problems start because although Charlie's intelligence has increased, his
emotional level has not. He has a hard time socializing with girls, and knowing what to
do in gatherings of people, because of this Charlie tends to make a fool of himself at a
party when he drinks. Over a period of time he starts to remember things about his
childhood. He visits his parents but his father does not know him, although his mother
and sister do and are happy to see him. He loses his job because the other works feel
threatened by Charlie's new powers. He realizes the friend he thought he had just used
him and made fun of him.
     Towards the end of the books, Charlie is angry and tired of being put on display
by the doctors. He is tired of being treated as an experiment instead of a person with
feelings. At one of the conventions where Charlie and Algernon are on display, Charlie
takes Algernon and runs away. Charlie knows that the consequence of his actions will
mean that over a period of time he will lose his intelligence and would go back to being
retarded. Algernon lose the effects of the operation and dies. Charlie realizes that what
has happened to Algernon will happen to him, and he considers suicide while he is still in
control of his emotions. Day by day Charlie began to regress, he became angry at people
very quickly. His new personality was a symptom of his regression, and people stayed
away from him. Charlie became lonely in the last few weeks before he regressed fully, he
starts to lose his memory, and reading and spelling become difficult again.
     Charlie had always been alone, no one had ever really understood him, or taken
the time to try, except of course his night school teacher Miss Kinnian.

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He was never
accepted, as either a stupid or smart person. He never seemed to fit in to society. The
doctors that conducted the experiments never really cared for Charlie, they used him for
their own glory. His friends used him as a scapegoat, and as entertainment. The only two
people in the story that cared for Charlie were Miss Kinnian and Algernon. The book
leaves one wondering who were the stupid people. Charlie in his retarded state, warm
and caring, or the people around him, that used him, made fun of him, and were afraid of
him. The last sentence in the book where he asks someone to put flowers on Algernon's
grave, shows that even in his present state, Charlie cared about Algernon. One has to
think whether Charlie would have been better off without the experiment. He would have
had his job, his friends, but most important of all a life. Who were the real losers in the
book, Charlie who knew a normal life and lost it, or the people who never took the time
to get to know Charlie?

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