- 1 flowers for algernon criticism
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- 1.2 Flowers for Algernon Criticisms
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- 1.4 Flowers for Algernon Critical Essays
- 1.5 Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series Flowers for Algernon Analysis
flowers for algernon criticism
these two points into consideration, this book was written as a science fiction
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Essay about Flowers for Algernon
. Andrew Allen English 252 Glen Hooks May 13, 2013 Flowers for Algernon The famous quote, “Where ignorance is bliss, tis’ folly to be wise” comes from Thomas Gray’s poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”. The meaning of is simply that a person is more comfortable when they do not know something. In the case of Charlie Gordon this is especially true since he knows very little. Charlie has a severe mental handicap, which was brought on by a fever he suffered with as a child, impeding his brain development. As an adult he works as a janitor in a bakery thanks to his uncles help. Through his relationships at his workplace and his other acquaintances we see how different his life is before and after his experimental brain surgery and can judge for ourselves whether ignorance truly is bliss. At the bakery where Charlie works he interacts with many of his fellow employees who he believes to be his friends. They provide him with a great deal of attention that Charlie processes as friendly, but in reality he is the butt of all of their jokes. Despite the constant ridicule he received from this he kept on smiling and being happy. Outside of work Charley is enrolled in a reading and writing class for retarded adults under the instruction of Alice Kinnian. In the beginning his relationship with Alice is nothing more than that of a student viewing a teacher who in his mind is much older than himself. Through this relationship however he is.
. Flowers for Algernon Flowers for Algernon, is a science fiction novel written by Daniel Keys. The story is taking place in the mid 1960’s. The text is representing a diary written by the main character, 37-year-old Charlie Gordon. He is uncommonly unintelligent, which influences his life, especially the social part. Although he is stupid, he has an incredible drive for learning. This desire probably has something to do with his night schoolteacher, Miss Kinnian, who he adores. He loves his job as a janitor, but his colleagues are laughing at him every day. Lucky for Charlie he is naive enough for believing that they are laughing with him. Two Doctors, Dr Strauss and Dr. Nemur, are making an experiment, where they will operate the mouse, Algernon, and a human being to test if it is possible to triple their intelligence. For this, they choose Charlie, and of course, he is gladly at their service because now he can learn even more, which is exactly why they wanted him. But of course they also have their own agendas. Dr. Nemur feels pressured by his wife to make a lot of money, and to be very successful. The operation succeeds, and Algernon and Charlie’s intelligence is getting higher and higher. But Charlie discovers some downsides of him suddenly being so smart. He gets fired from his job, and the explanation is seen in this piece at p.8 l.37: “You used to be a good.
. is not widely known. There is a situation that withstands today that does set two groups of people apart, and this is widely known in society. Mental illness is not something that can be chosen or changed. Instead of helping the mentally ill conform into society people today make sure that everyone knows that they are “different from us”. Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” stresses the intense ridicule society places on the mentally disabled through the actions of which Charlie Gordon, the protagonist, believes are his “friends”. Daniel Keyes, born in 1927 in Brooklyn New York, constantly battled an internal conflict over his choice to do what his parents told him, pursuing a career saving lives, or choosing his passion, which was writing. When his first year at NYU was coming to a close finish he thought to himself, “My education is a driving wedge between me and the people I love” (Keyes 1999 Pt. 1, ¶ 36). After later wondering what would happen if it were possible to increase a person’s intelligence, Keyes stored that idea and the ideas of education being a forcing wedge between people to then create “Flowers for Algernon” (Keyes 1999, Pt. 1, ¶ 36). Daniel Keyes was a high school English teacher during the time, grasping inspiring ideas from his students, that led to the the story, that later was turned into a best-selling novel (Werlock). Keyes had been teaching two Special Modified English for low I.Q.
. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is a classic science fiction set in southeastern New York, New York City. The fictitious prose traces a man's inner psychological journey within from a world of retardation to a world of great intelligence. Narrated through a series of empirical "Progress Reports", Flowers for Algernon follows the intellectual and emotional rise and fall of Charlie Gordon, a young man born with an unusually low Intelligence Quotient (IQ), as he becomes the first human pilot-study for an ambitious brain experiment. Charlie Gordon lives a life of comical, despondent and derisive experiences as he surfaces from mental darkness, through various phases of perceiving and understanding levels of knowledge into the light of complex perception of himself, the people around him and the world. The matter that lies in the heart of Flowers for Algernon is the individual turmoil of Charlie Gordon as he struggles to be recognized and treated as a human being and the psychological discord within. Narrator and focal character Charlie Gordon, is a memorable portrait of isolation of an individual who is at odds with society and who strive to have satisfactory relationships with others. Until the age of thirty-two, Charlie has lived in somewhat of a mental twilight. Impressed by Charlie's motivation to learn, psychiatrist and neurosurgeon, Dr. Strauss and his partner Professor Nemur.
. Flowers for Algernon In his novel, Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, tells the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded 32 year old man. An experimental surgery takes him from the darkness of stupidity, into the bright light of intelligence only to force him back into the dark. Enabling him to achieve a state if higher intelligence is thought to be an improvement of Charlie’s life. If it really is for the better becomes uncertain. Before the operation, Charlie’s intelligence and emotions are balanced. After the procedure, they are out of proportion. “There was something in you [Charlie] before… a warmth, an openness, a kindness… with all your intelligence and knowledge, there are differences” (122).As he becomes more knowledgeable Charlie remembers horrific scenes from his childhood. He realizes that in the past he was the laughing stock of his peers. Also, he gains a better insight into the complexity of the world around him. This emotional fallout begs the question whether intelligence and knowledge equal happiness and contentment. To be intelligent is Charlie’s biggest dream as a retarded person. “…maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart” (1). He hopes that being smart will make him normal, and allow him to make friends and be liked by everyone. He yearns to be an equal to his coworkers. But after the successful operation, the now very intelligent Charlie experiences that having a higher I.Q.
. enhanced he was dumbfounded that his ‘friends’ bullied him. The people closest to him mistreated Charlie Gordon. This book Flowers for Algernon, is told in first person. During the whole book Charlie Gordon tells the story and he uses ‘I, we, etc.’ For example, “I had a nightmare last night, and this morning, after I woke up, I free-associated the way Dr. Strauss told me to do when I remember my dreams. Think about the dream and just let my mind wonder until other thoughts come up in my mind. I keep on doing that until my mind goes blank.” (35) A lot of the characters in Flowers for Algernon are really cool. They are all unique in their own ways. The main character is Charlie. He is a 32-year-old man that is mentally disabled. He is my favorite character. Dr. Strauss is a doctor that is trying to help Charlie become an all around smarter human being. Mr. Donner is Charles boss. He is a really good man. He has given Charlie a job sense he was a young adult. He was good friends with Charlie’s dad and promised his dad that he will always take care of him and have a job for him. Gimpy is one of Charlie’s co- workers at the bakery. Neumur is a scientist that is helping Charlie also. Alice Kinnian is Charlie’s teacher at the Beckman college center for retarded adults. Ms. Kinnian is the woman with whom Charlie briefly finds loving fulfillment. Algernon is a white mouse that is the first successful test.
. Flowers for Algernon Summer Reading Book Report 2. Daniel Keys. 3. Novel 4. The setting of the story is New York City, while one chapter takes place in Chicago. There is no text that gives an exact date that the novel takes place but can guess it is around the 1960s, when Keyes wrote the book. The setting does not have a large impact on the book except when Charlie takes Algernon and is forced to hide in the crowded, urban city of New York. 5. The plot of the novel starts off with Charlie Gordon being a thirty-two year old man with mental retardation, is chosen to undergo a scientific surgery designed to boost his IQ. Charlie is recommended to have the surgery by his teacher at Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults, Alice Kinnian, because of his passion and eagerness to learn. Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur, the directors of the procedure, ask Charlie to keep a journal of his emotions and changes as the procedure beings to change him. The entire book is composed of Charlie’s ‘progress reports’ that he writes. Charlie works at Donner’s bakery in New York City as a janitor and delivery boy and is constantly picked on for his mental issues. Charlie is led to believe that his co-workers are his friends and is unable to comprehend that they are taking advantage of him and making fun of him. After Charlie goes through a series of tests with a mouse by the name of Algernon, Charlie undergoes the.
. Seminar Essay: The Themes of Alienation and Loneliness in the Novel If a person is lonely, it means that he or she is affected with or characterized by a depressing feeling of being alone. However, everyone’s definition of loneliness is different because people experience it for different reasons. Loneliness is an emotion everyone has experienced before, but it does contribute to growth, mentally and emotionally. Loneliness is felt by Charlie Gordon throughout Flowers for Algernon. Charlie’s varying degree of loneliness can be divided into three phases: the pre-genius, genius, and post-genius phases. The themes of alienation and loneliness played a big role in each one of Charlie’s phases of intelligence and affected his development to becoming a regular person. During the “pre-genius” phase, Charlie was treated like an outcast, however, he felt as though he fit in with the others at the bakery. Charlie felt like he belonged and wrote, “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” (Keyes 13). Charlie wanted to become smart just like the workers at Donner’s bakery. He thought that he could break the communication barrier between himself and his co-workers, which would have a positive effect. Unfortunately, Charlie was oblivious to what was happening in the bakery and wrote, “Lots of pepul laff at me and their my frends and we have fun” (Keyes 20). Charlie never.
Flowers for Algernon Criticisms
"An excerpt from Structural Fabulation: An Essay on Fiction of the Future"
University of Notre Dame Press, 1975
Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction
Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction
“Flowers for Algernon” is a novel written by Daniel Keyes and published in 1966. The book received critical acclaim despite some backlash for it’s representation of sexual themes and is still considered one of the classics of the 20th century. It has been adapted a variety of times including television, radio, theater and an Academy-Award winning film named “Charly” in 1968. The plot of the novel revolves around the main character, a thirty-two-year-old mentally handicapped man named Charlie Gordon. The book is told in an epistolary style through the usage of Charlie’s handwritten “progris riports”.
Through the reports, Charlie takes the reader on a journey in which he undergoes an experimental medical procedure designed to make him grow exponentially more intelligent. After having an operation, Charlie does begin to grow more intelligent until he eventually becomes a genius. However, a mouse named Algernon who had the same procedure before Charlie begins to grow sickly and die and Charlie fears that he, too will experience this degradation of his new found intelligence.
Eventually, Charlie realizes that his mental handicap is coming back and takes himself to a state home to leave in peace. He buries Algernon and requests that people leave flowers for him when they can.
The story of “Flowers for Algernon” is told through the eyes of Charlie Gordon, a mentally retarded adult man who has been chosen to take part in an experimental procedure designed to incrementally increase his intelligence. Every section is formatted as a progress report on Charlie’s part. In the first “progris riport”, Charlie’s spelling is very poor. He details that he is thirty-two years old and has an IQ of sixty-eight. He has a job at Donner’s Bakery and takes a literacy class with a woman named Miss Alice Kinnian three times a week.
A man named Dr. Strauss, who is conducting the experiment along with a Professor Nemur, has instructed Charlie to keep the progress reports of his thoughts and emotions.
Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur ask Charlie about his love of learning and he explains that his mother encouraged him to learn as much as he could from a young age. The doctors tell Charlie that they will need his mother’s permission on his behalf to begin the procedure and Charlie confess that he has no idea where his family is or if they are still alive.
Charlie worries that the stress of the procedure and the progress reports are taking their toll on him at his bakery job where a coworker recently scolded him for dropping a tray of rolls.
Charlie is taken to the laboratory where the experiment has already been performed on several mice and meets a mouse named Algernon who has already undergone the procedure.
One day, Charlie writes that the doctors have found his sister and gotten her permission to go through with the experiment. He overhears the doctors talking and Nemur fears that increasing his intelligence so dramatically will make him mentally ill. The doctors tell Charlie that the operation is purely experimental and may not actually work but he does not understand this. There is a potential that the operation will succeed on a temporary basis but that Charlie will slowly revert back to his former mental retardation and ultimately end up worse off than he ever was before. Charlie is blithely unaware of the risk and tells them that he is not worried and that he will “try awful hard” to make the experiment work.
While Charlie is awaiting his operation in the hospital, his teacher, Alice comes to visit him. Charlie tells her that he is excited about the prospect of becoming more intelligent and cannot wait to finally beat Algernon in the maze race. Charlie wants to become more intelligent so he can fit in more and make more friends.
Three days after the experiment, Charlie still does not feel any differently. He recovers in the hospital where a nurse informs him of the correct spelling of ‘Progress Report’ and he begins spelling it correctly in his writings.
Alice comes to visit shortly and Charlie tells her that he is disappointed that the procedure does not seem to have worked. Alice tells Charlie to wait and says that she has faith in him.
Charlie soon returns to his work at the bakery and the reader is introduced to his co-workers, Joe Carp, Frank Reilly and a man called Gimpy. Charlie does not realize that he is often the butt of his co-workers jokes. When another worker misplaces a cake, it is referred to as “pulling a Charlie Gordon”. Charlie asks his boss, Mr. Donner if he can be promoted to an apprentice baker but Mr. Donner turns him down and encourages him to focus on the work he’s been given.
Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur bring Charlie a television-like device and instruct him to turn it on while he sleeps. The device plays images and speaks to him. Charlie dislikes the machine as it keeps him awake at night but one night the machine triggers a memory of the first time that Charlie attended Alice’s class. Alice begins visiting Charlie more often and helping him with his spelling and reading skills.
Every night Charlie recovers more and more memories from his childhood and many of them are painful. Charlie begins referring to his past self in the third person, (not as “I” but as “Charlie”). He finally earns his promotion at the bakery by reconfiguring the machines to increase productivity. At the bakery, he notices that his increase in intelligence does not make his coworkers befriend him as he’d hoped it would, but instead makes them uncomfortable around him.
Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur begin taking about presenting their findings in the experiment at a conference in Chicago. Strauss is unsure if they should present it as the experiment is only in its early stages but Nemur overrides him as the senior member of the research team.
Charlie begins meeting and befriending college students on the campus of the laboratory where he attends his therapy sessions. He talks about Shakespeare with them and religion. This conversation later triggers a dream in which Charlie remembers his mother screaming “He’s normal! He’s normal!” when he was a small child.
Charlie asks Alice out to a movie to celebrate his success with the experiment. While at the movie, he begins to realize that he is attracted to her and admits the attraction to her over dinner. Alice tells him that a relationship between them would be inappropriate.
After he learns that Gimpy has been stealing from the bakery he struggles with the moral decision of whether or not he should tell his boss. Charlie asks the doctors for advice and another argument ensues between them. Nemur says that Charlie was not accountable for such decisions before the operation as he was basically an “inanimate object”. This accusation angers Charlie, who tries to convince the doctor that he was still a human being even though he was mentally disabled. Alice advises him on the dilemma as well, saying that he should follow his heart. Charlie is overwhelmed but happy to find that he is now capable of making moral judgments by himself. He decides to tell Gimpy that he has found him out and give him time to mend his ways before he tells Mr. Donner. Gimpy agrees to this grudgingly.
During this time, Charlie’s mental capability beings to advance beyond average and he starts finding the doctors and professors at the college to be too dimwitted for him to hold a conversation with. Charlie begins to believe that he is having hallucinations that he believes are coming from his intellectual growth outpacing his emotional growth.
Mr. Donner fires Charlie from the bakery because of pressure from his employees.
Charlie’s relationship with Nemur begins getting strained. Nemur worries that Charlie is not writing as many progress reports as he used to and Charlie agrees that he has been too busy learning all that he can. Charlie remembers another incident when he was a boy and his sister was promised a puppy for getting good grades. Later, when she was told she wouldn’t be getting the puppy, Norma became upset and shouted that she would start acting “dumb” like Charlie if her hard work was not going to be rewarded anyway. Charlie wishes that he could go back and tell his sister that he never meant to hurt or upset her.
Charlie’s relationship with Alice also begins to strain. She feels that he is not the warm person he once was and that he has become cold and aggressive.
On the plane to the conference in Chicago, Charlie hesitates to put his seat belt on and remembers a time when his mother took him to a doctor who strapped him to a table and promised that he could “cure” Charlie.
While at the conference, Charlie meets with many scientists and students with whom he is able to hold intelligent conversations. While discussing an article in the Hindu Journal of Psychopathology, Charlie discovers that Nemur cannot read the article because he cannot speak Hindi. Strauss tells him that he cannot speak the language either but that he speaks six others. This number does not mean much to Charlie who has learned more than that in the past two months since the experiment alone.
Later, Charlie returns for the presentation of his case and sits on the stage while Strauss and Nemur discuss their findings. While listening to this presentation, Charlie learns that after the experiment was done on Algernon, the little mouse became erratic and self-destructive once he reached the height of his intelligence. Charlie, realizing the implications of this finding, becomes worried that this was hidden from him. He grows annoyed of being referred to as a specimen and privately wonders what kind of havoc he could create if he were to let Algernon out of his cage.
During the presentation, Charlie realizes that Nemur failed to calculate whether or not Algernon’s increased intelligence would be permanent. This is the last straw for Charlie who grows so upset that he does decide to let Algernon out of his cage.
He soon sees a newspaper article about him in which his sister, Norma tells the reporter that she has no idea where he is. Charlie assumes that his mother told Norma that he had been sent to a state home and died years ago.
In his apartment, Charlie builds a large maze for Algernon to run through but finds that the mouse is having trouble concentrating and keeps banging himself against the walls of the maze.
He befriends a neighbor named Fay who finds the neatness of his apartment irritating. Fay is a heavy drinker and one night she convinces Charlie to drink with her. Charlie soon passes out and when he wakes the next morning he is naked and in bed with Fay. She tells him, however, that they did not have sex and asks him if he is gay. She tells him that he acted oddly when he was drunk, saying that he was behaving like a little kid.
Charlie visits Alice and tells her that he worries that he has become emotionally detached from everyone around him. He wonders if he would be able to have sex with Alice if he pretended that she was Fay because he does not have any strong feelings for Fay.
Returning home, Charlie waits for Fay and when she arrives home they have sex. Charlie can feel his “other self” watching him but not panicking. Soon, Charlie decides that he is going to go back to the lab and take over the experiment himself. He manages to convince the group running the experiment and they allow him to lead the team without reporting to doctor Nemur.
Noticing the way Algernon’s intelligence has regressed, Charlie asks what contingency plans have been set in place if his own intelligence should start to diminish. Nemur tells him that he would be sent to the state home and Charlie decides to visit the home. The visit upsets him as, although the staff is friendly, the resident’s vacant stares remind him of what he will be returning to.
Charlie begins to work feverishly in the lab to prevent this. Daunted by his concentration, Fay moves on to another boyfriend. At a party for the foundation that provided the funding for the experiment, Charlie gets hopelessly drunk and Strauss scolds him. Strauss tells him that he is not appreciative enough for what the experiment has given him and Charlie confirm that he isn’t because he feels that all he has discovered is that people are uncomfortable around him no matter his level of intelligence. In his drunk, emotional state, Charlie feels his inner, former self-starting to come to the forefront. Charlie rushes to the bathroom and looks into the mirror, telling his mentally handicapped self that they are enemies and he will fight as long as he can to keep him at bay.
Charlie has a huge breakthrough in his findings which he writes a paper on. He finds that the more artificially induced intelligence a person gains, the sooner it will break down and deteriorate.
As he feels his intelligence beginning to decline, Charlie goes to see his mother. His mother panics when she sees him and Charlie try to tell her what has happened to him as quickly as he can. Charlie realizes this his mother has become delusional and although he has now fulfilled her dreams for him she does not understand this. Norma, who has been caring for their mother, arrives home and is happy to see Charlie. Norma apologizes for being so cruel to Charlie when they were children. However, this happiness is dashed when Charlie’s mother comes at him with a knife, assuming that he is trying to molest her daughter. Charlie leaves his family in tears. As he leaves the house he thinks he sees his own boyhood face looking through the window.
Charlie’s intelligence begins to decline further and his frustration grows. He contemplates committing suicide but feels that he has to keep writing his progress reports for the sake of the experiment. Charlie decides not to visit the lab anymore and begins keeping to his apartment. Alice comes to stay with him. The couple begins to become intimate and Charlie does not feel the panic that he once felt with her. However, Charlie cannot bare to let Alice see his descent into retardation again he makes her promise that when he asks her to leave she will do so and not come back.
When he tries to re-read his paper on the Algernon-Gordon effect, Charlie is unable to understand it and he can no longer remember the languages he learned.
Charlie wonders if he can at least maintain his current level of intelligence, however, his progress reports begin to descend into their old style of poor grammar. As his regression continues, Charlie returns to Donner’s bakery and gets his old job back. This time, his co-workers treat him with more respect and protect him from the new employee who does not like him. Charlie realizes that they are his friends after all.
Forgetting that he is no longer enrolled in Alice’s class, Charlie shows up for his next lesson. Alice sees that he has fully regressed back into his mentally handicapped state and becomes upset, running from the room. Sensing that he is upsetting people, Charlie decides to go and live in the state home and in his final progress report, says that he is glad that he had the experience of being smart for a short time and that he got to learn about his family. He now only retains vague memories of his time as a genius. He writes a goodbye note to Strauss and Alice and tells Nemur that he thinks he can make more friends if he tries not to get upset when people mock him. The final entry ends with Charlie’s postscript, inviting people to put flowers on Algernon’s grave if they can.
Charlie Gordon – the main character of the story. Charlie is a mentally handicapped thirty-two-year-old man who begins undergoing a procedure designed to make him more intelligent. Charlie is the narrator of the story, telling the events of the months leading up to and after the procedure through the narrative usage of progress reports that he writes himself.
At the beginning of the novel, Charlie works a menial job at Donner’s Bakery and although he is generally a happy man, he wishes that he had more friends. Charlie’s main object in undergoing the procedure is becoming more intelligent so that he will fit in with what he sees as “normal” people and be able to make more friends. Charlie does not remember his past at the beginning of the novel but starts to remember pieces as the story progresses. Through these memories, he recalls his mother’s abuse of him and his father’s neglect. Charlie realizes that he has many phobias related to his mother’s treatment of him including a phobia of sexual contact or sexual thoughts.
Charlie manages to overcome this phobia while he is a genius.
Alice Kinnian – – Charlie’s teacher in his literacy class. Alice recommends Charlie for the experiment because of his love of learning and his longing to be more intelligent. Alice is a kind, forgiving woman who loves her students and cares about their development. After the experiments effects begin to take hold, Alice realizes that she is attracted to Charlie but knows that a relationship between them would be inappropriate. She tells him this but several months later relents and begins a brief sexual relationship with Charlie before he reverts back to his former state. Alice appears to clearly love Charlie as her last scene in the novel is one of her running from the room in tears when she sees him again as his former self.
Rose Gordon – – Charlie’s mother. Rose is only briefly shown in the novel but her effect on Charlie controls much of his actions throughout the entire length of it. Rose is a domineering, controlling woman who finds her son’s mental retardation shameful and regularly tries to “cure” him of it. Rose ignores her husband’s pleas for her to be more rational and slowly grows more and more hysterical as Charlie grows into a man. Charlie feels that his mother only tried to change him before his younger sister was born and that after Norma came into the world his mother gave up on him and wanted him to disappear. Rose regularly punished Charlie for any sign of sexual interest and is responsible for the phobia that Charlie later develops of sex.
Daniel Keyes was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 9th, 1927. Keyes briefly attended New York University before enlisting in the United States Maritime Service at the age of seventeen. After the end of World War II, Keyes returned to New York and attended Brooklyn College where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology 1950.
After graduating, Keyes joined the magazine company, Magazine Management where he went on to become an editor of their pulp science fiction magazine, Marvel Science Stories. In the 1&50’s, he began writing for the company’s comic line Atlas comics which later became Marvel comics, one of the most successful comics companies in the world. Keyes became the editor of Atlas comics under the editor-in-chief, Stan Lee.
At this time, Keyes wrote a short story called “Flowers for Algernon” which was later adapted into the full-length novel of the same title. The idea came from a circumstance that arose when Keyes was teaching special needs students English. One of his students asked him if he would be allowed to attend a regular class if he put in a lot of work and became smart. Keyes also saw a dramatic change in one student who regressed greatly after he was removed from routine lessons. The book was a success and was adapted into a major film titled “Charly” in 1968 just two years after it was published. The film won an Academy Award for Best Actor. Keyes won both of the most coveted awards in science fiction writing, The Hugo Award in 1959 and the Nebula Award in 1966 for the book.
In 1966, Keyes began teaching English and Creative Writing at Ohio University where he was later honored as a professor emeritus in the year 2000. Throughout this time, Keyes continued to write and in 1981 he published a successful non-fiction novel called “The Minds of Billy Milligan” which portrays the life of Billy Milligan, the first person in United States history to be acquitted of a major crime by arguing that he had multiple personality disorder.
On June 15th, 2014, Keyes died from complications of pneumonia in his home. He was survived by his two daughters, his wife, Aurea Georgina Vazquez having died the year before.
Flowers for algernon criticism
Charlie is going downhill. He is depressed and thinks of suicide. Then thoughts of the "other9quot; Charlie make him ashamed - "His life is not mine to throw away. I’ve just borrowed it for a while and now I’m being asked to return it." He keeps reminding himself he’s the only person to have such experiences and realizes that he must document them as his contribution to mankind. Charlie works very hard and avoids sleep. He plays loud music in order to keep awake and the neighbors call the police. His relationship with them becomes hostile, but he doesn’t even notice the change.
Charlie has an abrasive session of therapy with Strauss. Charlie is irritable and constantly tries to provoke Strauss. He compares him to a barber who gives "ego shampoos," and asks whether an "idiot9quot; can have an "id?9quot; Strauss lets him rave, and refuses to be provoked. Charlie lies back on his couch and has a strange experience. He sees "a blue-white glow from the walls and the ceiling gathering into a shimmering ball. forcing itself into my brain. and my eyes. I have the feeling of floating. and yet without looking down I know my body is still here on the couch. " He feels as if he is released from the earth. "And then, as I know I am about to pierce the crust of existence, like a flying fish leaping out of the sea, I feel the pull from below." Unwillingly, Charlie is pulled back to earth and comes to consciousness. He wonders whether it is a hallucination or is it the kind of experience described by the mystics? He returns to reality feeling as if he is being thrown against the walls of a cave, beyond which is a "holy light" which is more than he can bear. He is filled with "pain9quot; and "coldness and nausea" and he screams.
Charlie ends the therapy session, telling Strauss that he won’t come back. He is immensely depressed and is haunted by Plato’s words, "--the men of the cave would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes. " They seem to reflect the bizarre see-saw that his life has been, and the dreaded shrinking of his intelligence.
Charlie still struggles with his reports. He goes unwillingly to the Beekman lab, as he feels that he owes it to the team there. But, he balks at the grind of the same old mazes he used to do with Algernon. He notices that it is taking him much longer now than it did before to solve a maze. Burt puts him through the Rorschach inkblots, but he realizes that he has forgotten what to do. He becomes incoherent, then tells Burt that he is not a guinea pig and therefore should be left alone. He rejects Burt’s sympathy saying, "we don’t happen to belong on the same level. I passed your floor on the way up and now I’m passing it on the way down, and I don’t think I’ll be taking this elevator again." He then rushes out of the university.
Strauss visits Charlie but Charlie refuses to open the door to him. Charlie tries to read ‘Paradise Lost’ which he loved, but he can’t ‘make sense’ of it. He relives the awful past when his mother had tried to teach him reading and had threatened ‘to beat it into him until he learns.’ In anguish, Charlie breaks the binding and rips the pages out. He leaves it lying on the floor "its torn white tongues were laughing because I couldn’t understand what they were saying." He prays, "I’ve got to try to hold onto some of the things I’ve learned. Please God, don’t take it all away."
Flowers for Algernon Critical Essays
Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series Flowers for Algernon Analysis
(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)
Although protagonist Charlie Gordon is an adult, Flowers for Algernon is a coming-of-age story with which both children and adults readily identify. As his intelligence increases, he must confront emotional, social, and ethical issues previously beyond his understanding. As he regresses, he faces loss with dignity and determination.
As critic Robert Small, Jr., points out, the question “What if I were smarter?” occurs to all children and adolescents, especially in the competitive school environment. Daniel Keyes answers that question well, in a complicated but not a confusing manner, showing the benefits and pitfalls of genius.
Many critics have praised the novel for its treatment of the mentally handicapped. Keyes’s depiction is emotionally powerful but flawed; for example, Charlie’s sexual desire fully awakens only after the operation (he is surprised by his first nocturnal emission), although in reality mental retardation does not prevent sexual maturity. Nevertheless, that awakening may contribute to Charlie’s appeal among young adult readers, and the novel’s plea for empathy is obvious and convincing. The most accurate depiction of mental illness can be found when Charlie visits the Warren State Home, a scene that seems to be based on an actual visit to the institution.
Although the reader identifies with Charlie emotionally, other characters present conflicting views, enriching the novel. When Charlie and Alice debate human nature, both make good points; the bakery coworkers are shown both harassing Charlie and befriending him, a realistically paradoxical mix.
Some critics argue that, for science fiction, Flowers for Algernon contains little fictional science. Actually, the process is described in some detail, including surgery, enzyme treatments, and subliminal teaching during sleep, although the emphasis is on the resulting changes in Charlie. Much speculation in the novel concerns Freudian psychology, with Keyes examining such issues as the importance of the unconscious, the remembrance of past traumas to cure current problems, and the dangers of a sexually repressive upbringing.
Critic Paul Williams sees stories about increased intelligence, such as Flowers for Algernon and Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave (1954), as a modern myth, perhaps condensing the past centuries of human scientific development to an individual scale. If so, he points out, Charlie’s return to his prior state, or worse, may show modern society’s insecurity about technology and anxiety about the state that would result should it be lost.
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Flowers for Algernon Homework Help Questions
In Daniel Keyes' novel Flowers for Algernon, the main character has an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. After the surgery radically improves Charlie's intelligence, his outlook.
The mental illness that defines pre-surgery Charlie allows him to function in society, but it prevents him from forming meaningful relationships with others. Many people mock him for his illness.
Though Charlie Gordon does not physically die at the end of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, it is suggested that he might because he has, after all, followed the fate of Algernon fairly.
Even though, at the end of the story, Charlie loses his new found intelligence, he retains a healthy sense of self-worth."Even after Charlie returns to his previous subnormal level of.
In Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, the relationship between Miss Kinnian and Charlie begins to change. Miss Kinnian had been Charlie's teacher at a school for the mentally disabled, but as he.