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1. Flowers for Algernon By Danielle Keyes
2. Main Characters Charlie Gordon
Drs Strauss and Nemur
Joe and Frank
3. Setting A laboratory and hospital in New York City, 1965
4. Plot Charlie Gordon is a 37 year old man with low mental ability. His teacher, Miss Kinnian, recommends him as a candidate for an experiment in which the intelligence of a white mouse named Algernon has already tripled. Charlies progress is charted through a journal that he keeps. After undergoing surgery, Charlie becomes a genius and acquires tremendous academic knowledge as well as a painful awareness of human failings.
5. Plot contd. When Algernon begins to regress, Charlie begins his own research to see if he can solve the problem.
He discovers a flaw in his doctors theories and realizes that his own intelligence will deteriorate. Ultimately Algernon dies. Charlie returns to his original level of intelligence but is unable to return to his old life. He moves away, asking his friends to continue his practice of placing flowers on Algernons grave.
6. Major Themes Intelligence
Loss of Innocence and Self-realization
Treatment of mentally challenged persons
Ethics of science
7. Intelligence Charlies lack of intelligence is why he wanted to get the operation. He thinks that intelligence will get him more friends and solve all of his problems but it only makes things worse and more difficult. Later in the novel, Charlie slowly takes the path of Algernon. The increase of his intelligence doesnt match with his social maturation. This, in turn, only further isolates him.
8. Loss of Innocence and self-realization Charlie realises that the world is not as perfect as he thought. He notices that people are laughing at him once he when he loses his child-like innocence. He also realises that intelligence does not guarantee happiness. Charlie learns that love, death, pain, loss, and friends are experiences that even the most intelligent of people struggle with.
9. Treatment of Mentally Challenged Persons Another important theme of the novel, made more complex by the dramatic changes in the hero, and his awareness of people. The readers see the injustice against him. His friends at work make him the butt of their jokes and tricks. Even the medical men, whose aim is to improve the sad lives of mentally retarded people, treat him as an object and a laboratory animal.
10. Ethics of Science Do you think it was ethical to do what the scientists did to Charlie?
If this could be done in reality, but also have no guarantees, do you think scientists should experiment on humans?
11. Special Quotes Miss Kinnian says that maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart. My name is Charlie Gordon and I am 37 years old.
12. Special Quotes He looked very sad so that wasnt it. I said please let me try agen. Ill get it in a few minits becaus Im no so fast somtimes. Im a slow reader too in Miss Kinnians class for slow adults but Im trying very hard.
13. Special Quotes I told them all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb. But its very hard to be smart. They sid you know it will probly be tempirery. I said yes. Miss Kinnian told me. I dont care if it herts.
14. Special Quotes I hate that mouse. He always beats me. Those inkblots are stupid. And those pictures are stupid too. I think writing these progress reports are stupid too.
15. Special Quotes We had a lot of fun at the factery today. Frank Reilly said what did you do Charlie forget your key and open your door the hard way. That made me laff. Their really my friends and they like me. Sometimes somebody will say hey look at Joe or Frank or George he really pulled a Charlie Gordon.
16. Special Quotes I wanted to race Algernon some more but Burt said thats enough for one day. They let me hold him for a minit. Hes not so bad.
17. Special Quotes We are reading a very hard book
called Robinson Crusoe
I feel sorry because hes all alone and has no friends. But I think their must be somebody else on the iland because theirs a picture with his funny umbrella and looking at footprints.
18. Special Quotes Then when I got up I saw the look on Joes face and it gave me a funny feeling in my stomack. Frank said, Look at him. His face is red. Hes blushing. Charlies blushing.
19. Special Quotes I just looked up the word in the dictionary Dr. Strauss gave me.
20. Special Quotes I didnt believe it and I still have the suspicion he misled me at the time just for the fun of it. Unless- I dont know any more- could I have been that feeble-minded?
21. Special Quotes It seems to me that anybody could make up lies about things they didnt really see. How could he know I wasnt making a fool of him by mentioning things that I didnt really imagine?
22. Special Quotes You used to be a good, dependable, ordinary man-not too bright maybe, but honest. Who knows what you done to yourself to get so smart all of a sudden.
23. Special Quotes This intelligence has driven a wedge between me and all the people I once knew and loved. Before, they laughed at me for my ignorance and dullness, now, they hate me for my knowledge and understanding
Now Im more alone than ever before.
24. Special Quotes But today, in looking at that boy, for the first time I saw what I have been. I was just like him!
25. Special Quotes It happened today. Algernon bit me.
26. Special Quotes And if you remember, please put flowers on Algernons grave.