Flowers for Algernon is a novel written by Daniel Keyes and first published in 1966. It was originally a short story and, in the year 2000, was adapted into a film of the same name. There are no direct references to the time period in which the story takes place, but it’s safe to assume that the events take place around the time the novel was written; the mid-1960s. In this novel, there are two primary settings, the main character’s room, where he writes in his journal, and the hospital, where he undergoes surgery and various examinations.
A secondary setting is a small, family operated business named Donner’s Bakery where Charlie, the protagonist, works as a janitor and delivery boy. As the story develops, much of the action takes place in Charlie’s room and the bakery, but gradually shifts towards the hospital and hospital-like settings (the laboratory). As the novel comes to a close, reverse progression takes place and the story reverts back to Charlie’s room and the bakery. The events of the story take place in New York City, with a brief episode in Chicago.
In summary, Charlie Gordon, a mentally handicapped thirty-two-year-old, is chosen by a team of doctors and scientists to be a guinea pig for an experimental surgery designed to increase one’s intelligence. Alice Kinnian, Charlie’s teacher at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults, recommended Charlie for the experiment because of his intense desire to learn. Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur, who are in charge of the experiment, suggested that, if possible, Charlie keep a journal and write a new entry every day. Flowers for Algernon is composed entirely of Charlie’s journal entries which he titles “progress reports”.
At Donner’s Bakery, the other employees pick on him, but Charlie fails to understand that he’s the subject of the mockery and, instead, considers his co-workers friends. Charlie undergoes his surgery after a multitude of tests. The most prominent test being a maze-solving competition against a mouse named Algernon who has already had the surgery. At first, there isn’t a noticeable difference in Charlie’s intelligence, but Alice helps him and he gradually improves his spelling and grammar abilities. Charlie then begins to read voraciously, gaining knowledge of a plethora of subjects.
Charlie begins to recover old memories of his family. As he becomes smarter, he becomes attracted to Alice, who wants to remain friends even though she feels the same way about him. Mr. Donner, the bakery owner, notices that Charlie no longer needs his charity, and decides to let him go. Charlie becomes increasingly more attracted to Alice, though he panics when the mood becomes too intimate. Professor Nemur takes Charlie and Algernon to a convention in Chicago where he they are exhibited. He then becomes angry at Nemur’s failure to recognize his humanity and returns to New York with Algernon.
He gets an apartment where the scientists cannot find him. Charlie’s intelligence surpasses Nemur’s and he realizes that the professor’s hypothesis is wrong when he discovers the possibility that his newly found intellect may only be temporary. Charlie meets and becomes involved with Fay Lillman, his neighbor. He doesn’t tell her about his past and discovers that intimacy isn’t a problem this time around. Charlie eventually drifts away from Fay due to his decision to do his own scientific research. Algernon’s intelligence starts to decline and Charlie deduces that the same thing will happen to him.
Charlie seeks closure by visiting his mother and sister before his intelligence regresses. It didn’t turn out too well after his mother tried to kill him with a butcher knife. Charlie discovers the flaw in the operation that caused Algernon’s and eventually Charlie’s own intelligence to vanish. As he experiences a period of average intelligence on his path back to retardation, Charlie has a brief, passionate relationship with Alice. When his regression is finished, he returns to his old job at the bakery, where he is welcomed back with kindness. His last request is for the reader of his journal to leave flowers on Algernon’s grave. Everyone was looking at me and laughing and I felt naked. ” (Allusion) “Charlie stares at him, the smile melting from his face. ” (Imagery) “I started in, past the stairs I had seen so often in my nightmares. I had often been pursued up that long, narrow staircase by demons who grabbed at my legs and pulled me down into the cellar below, while I tried to scream without a voice, straggling on my tongue and gagging in silence. ” (Allegory) “…the switch that sets the huge machine humming. ” (Personification) “His eyebrows came down like shutters…” (Simile) I was scared to death of ink blots. ” (Hyperbole) “I felt boxed in by my obligations. ” (Metaphor) “…realize Algernon and I have been found missing. ” (Oxymoron) “Sleeping comes so naturally to me, I could do it with my eyes closed. ” (Pun) “…I just thought he was a magic mouse is all. ” (Alliteration) Charlie Gordan is the protagonist and author of the progress reports that the novel is composed of. He is a thirty-two-year-old mentally retarded man with an IQ of 68 who lives in New York City. At the start of the novel, he works at Donner’s Bakery as a janitor and delivery boy.
Charlie’s desire to learn compounded with his low self-esteem render him the best student in Alice Kinnian’s reading class at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults. Charlie undergoes an experimental surgery to boost his intelligence. His IQ triples and his intelligence surpasses that of the scientists responsible for the experiment. Without Charlie in the story, there wouldn’t be a story to tell. The novel would be about a team of scientists looking for someone to experiment on. As the protagonist, the story’s events revolve around Charlie and it’s narrated entirely out of his “progress reports”.
Alice Kinnian is Charlie’s teacher at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults. Alice is one of two women that Charlie becomes involved with during the course of the story. Alice recommends Charlie for the experimental operation because she is impressed by his motivation. Even though she is not a scientist, she acts as an unofficial member of the team because of her role as Charlie’s teacher and her concern for him. Alice likes to think she’s motivated by intellectual pursuits, but her emotions are what truly drive her involvement in the process. Alice is important to the story because of her role as Charlie’s teacher.
After the experiment, she helps Charlie take advantage of his newly found intelligence by teaching him how to read. This was the first step in helping Charlie gain knowledge, which was a result of the books he was now able to read. Alice, being Charlie’s crush, motivated him to continue his quest for knowledge. Algernon is a white mouse. He was the first successful test subject for the experimental intelligence boosting operation. The operation made Algernon three times as intelligent as a normal mouse and enabled him to solve complex puzzles. Algernon was able to solve mazes faster than humans and, rather than be driven by food, was riven by his desire to accomplish the task at hand. Algernon is important to the story because, due to his deteriorating intelligence and eventual death, he gave us insight into events that were yet to come. Algernon’s foreshadowing of Charlie’s mental regression motivated Charlie to engage in research and discover the “Algernon-Gordon Effect. ” Algernon’s timely distraction at the convention in Chicago allowed both him and Charlie to escape professor Nemur and return to New York. I believe that this book would entertain a wide range of people due to the science-fiction meets romance aspect of it.
Anyone who has spare time and is interested in one of those topics should read this book. It’s not too long and it’s a relatively easy read. I’m pretty sure it’s at a middle school reading level because, after all, half the book is written exactly how a mentally handicapped person would write it. That includes horrible spelling, bad grammar, and an elementary vocabulary. Historically, this book has been controversial because of its blunt use of the word “retard” and, due to a few mature paragraphs, its appeal to a young audience.
If you’re not offended by any of that then you should, by all means, read this novel. I really enjoyed reading it even though I felt obligated to do so. 1. geomorphology – the branch of geology that examines the formation and structure of the features of the surface of the Earth or of another planet. 2. stratigraphy – the branch of geology that studies rock layers and layering. 3. psychopathology – the study of the causes and development of psychiatric disorders. 4. inhibition – a feeling or belief that prevents somebody from behaving spontaneously or speaking freely. 5. mbezzle – to take for personal use money or property that has been given on trust by others, without their knowledge or permission. 6. opportunist – somebody who takes advantage of something, especially somebody who does so in a devious, unscrupulous, or unprincipled way. 7. gruffly – abrupt, angry, or impatient in manner or speech. 8. inanimate – not in a physically live state. 9. plateau – an area of high ground with a fairly level surface. 10. hallucination – the perception of somebody or something that is not really there, which is often a symptom of a psychiatric disorder or a response to some drugs. 1. adolescent – somebody who has reached puberty but is not yet an adult. 12. delegation – the giving of some power, responsibility, or work to somebody else. 13. inadequate – failing to reach an expected or required level or standard. 14. preliminary – occurring before and leading up to something, especially an event of greater size and importance. 15. hysterectomy – a surgical operation to remove a womb. 16. hysteria – an emotionally unstable state brought about by a traumatic experience. 17. adroit – displaying physical or mental skill. 18. typtic – slowing down the rate of bleeding or stopping bleeding altogether, whether by causing the blood vessels to contract or by accelerating clotting. 19. kimono – a loose floor-length traditional Japanese garment that has wide sleeves, wraps in front, and is fastened with a sash. 20. linguistic – relating to language or languages. 21. primitive – relating to or occurring at the first stages or form of something. 22. gestalt – a set of things such as a person’s thoughts and experiences considered as a whole and regarded as amounting to more than the sum of its parts. 23. rganismic – an individual form of life, such as a plant, animal, bacterium, protist, or fungus; a body made up of organs, organelles, or other parts that work together to carry on the various processes of life. 24. neurosis – a mild psychiatric disorder characterized by anxiety, depression, or hypochondria. 25. lethargy – a state of physical slowness and mental dullness resulting from tiredness, disease, or drugs. I liked this book because I’m a big fan of science fiction. I’m not too big on the romance aspect of it, but the majority is definitely sci-fi. This book, in my opinion, is both suspenseful humorous.
It makes me want to reside in the mind of a mentally handicapped person for one day just to experience it. I want to learn about their reasoning and thought processes. Reading this novel, I’ve realized that when the protagonist is naive, the story becomes booby trapped with situational irony. This book was so worthwhile, I bought myself a copy. CONFIDENCE| | At first, he became nervous when the mood became intimate between him and Alice. When he met Fay, he faced his fears. He became paranoid and believed that his old (retarded) self was watching everything he did. INTELLIGENCE| | At first, his grammar was poor and his spelling was horrible. After the surgery, he acquired a temporary intelligence boost. During this time, he learned how to read and became an expert on multiple subjects. Though, eventually, he regressed back to his former mentally handicapped self. | FRIENDLINESS| | Charlie was picked on and made fun of at work. Since he’s too naive to understand that he was the center of all the mockery, he didn’t think much of it. When he found out about “pulling a Charlie Gordon,” he still treated his co-workers like friends. COMMON SENSE| | Charlie Gordon takes everything way too literally. When he was asked to tell Alice what he sees in the ink blots, he told her “I see inkblots. ” He claims he doesn’t know how to imagine or think about things, even though he really wants to learn how. | CONSIDERATION| | When Charlie feels treated like an animal at the convention center in Chicago, he decides to escape from professor Nemur by fleeing back to New York. He releases Algernon from his cage and takes him to New York so he can be free, too. | CHARLIE GORDON REPORT CARD GPA: 3. 00