Flowers for Algernon
Isolation in Flowers For Algernon And The Catcher in The Rye Novels
Alienation by definition is the state or experience of being isolated from a group. Usually when the word alienation is brought up, people immediately think that alienation involves an individual rejection from society. Alienation is initiated when one is significantly different from others. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger portray the alienation individuals go through and how individuals react being isolated when trying to be accepted by society. Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon is the story of a mentally disabled man who undergoes an operation which gives him artificial intelligence and he hopes to be accepted by society with his new intelligence. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is the story of a seventeen-year-old boy who faces alienation for being unable to properly communicate with others and eventually ends up going insane from being isolated from everyone around him. Alienation occurs when one is being bullied or when one feels as if they are different and shunned by society. People can be alienated from their families, friends and community by being or behaving significantly different than others. Alienation causes confusion and helplessness as individuals ultimately feel like they can never be accepted by society and they feel they will be on their own for their lifetime.
In the novel Flowers for Algernon, one of the themes of this novel is alienation. Keyes develops the idea that alienation occurs when an individual is not accepted by society. Protagonist Charlie Gordon is first alienated by his family, especially his sister Norma and his mother Rose. Charlie says, “I see now that when Norma flowered the garden I became a weed, allowed to exist only where I would not be seen, in corners and dark places” (Keyes 168). Charlie understands why his family alienated him; he knows that weeds are removed from the garden lest they ruin the image of the garden. Moreover, both Norma and Rose knew that they could alienate Charlie without any negative affect to their reputation. Charlie is also rejected and alienated by the community. Before he is accepted, Charlie notes, “If you’re smart you can have lots of friends to talk to and you never get lonley by yourself all the time” (Keyes 15). Charlie has been alienated since he was a child, laughed at by other children in school for being a slow learner. He never had any friends because he was ‘different’ from the other children. Finally, Charlie alienates himself. When he undergoes the operation that raises his IQ, it is revealed that there are ‘two’ Charlies inside one body. The intellectual Charlie is in control for most of the novel, while the low-IQ Charlie is ‘locked away’ in the unconscious part of his mind. Throughout the novel, Charlie has many conflicts with himself. During one conflict, intellectual Charlie says, “I’m not your friend. I’m your enemy. I’m not going to give up my intelligence without a struggle. I can’t go back down into that cave. There’s no place for me to go now, Charlie. So you’ve got to stay away” (Keyes 252). Ironically, intellectual Charlie alienates his low IQ self for the same reason society alienated him: because he’s different and doesn’t fit in.
Keyes also shows how society is pre-disposed to alienate those who are intellectually inferior. When Charlie enters the bakery where he works with his new artificial intelligence, he hopes that he’ll finally be accepted by his co-workers. Instead, his co-workers are equal parts fearful of and annoyed by his rapid increase in intelligence. The relationship between Charlie and his co-workers becomes strained, forcing Mr. Donner to fire Charlie. Mr. Donner tells Charlie, “But something happened to you, and I don’t understand what it means. Not only me. Everyone has been talking about it. I’ve had them in here a dozen times in the last few weeks. They’re all upset. Charlie, I got to let you go” (Keyes 104). Charlie’s sudden increase in intelligence upsets the previously established balance in the bakery with his co-workers believing Charlie is inferior. They are uncomfortable when he begins to change, but they never accept that he is their equal and never accept him in their group. Another example is when Alice Kinnian starts to feel as though Charlie is becoming intellectually superior to her. Alice says, “Charlie, don’t push me. I don’t know. 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” (Keyes 92). Alice and Charlie are prevented from having a relationship because Alice fails to meet Charlies intellectual needs. Because of this, Charlie is alienated from the only other person who might understand him. A final example is the way Professor Nemur and Doctor Strauss react when they figure out that the operation is causing Charlie to learn much more quickly than expected and they realize he is becoming their intellectual superior. The knowledge that it has taken both Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss to learn over a lifetime, Charlie is able to master in a couple of months and he is continually surpassing them. The two take this progress as an insult and an embarrassment. Professor Nemur states, “This is not the time or place to go into that I’m certain all of these points will be adequately dealt with in tomorrow’s session” (Keyes 149). Professor Nemur is stunned Charlie knows more than him and begins to feel as though he is lesser than Charlie. Because of this, Nemur alienates Charlie, avoiding conversations with him. This affects Charlie, because the people with whom he was once close have alienated him yet again. This is emotionally and mentally frustrating for Charlie.
Finally, Keyes is pointing out that society mistreats the disabled and often alienates them. For example, Charlie’s friends at the bakery often mistreat and tease Charlie. Charlie’s co-workers attempt to embarrass him for taking on large tasks they know he will not be able to complete properly. His co-workers continuously laugh at him and find enjoyment in seeing him struggle on simple tasks. Once he figures out his friends have been making fun of him for failing to do simple tasks, he alienates himself from the bakery. Another example is how Charlie’s family mistreats him. Norma verbally abuses Charlie, while Rose verbally and physically abuses him. Charlie’s mother tells him that he will never be normal and he is better off dead (Keyes 184). She states this because she knows Charlie will never be accepted by society. Also, Norma tells Charlie that she gets picked on for having a ‘retarded’ brother. The two eventually decide to kick Charlie out of the house, forcing him to go live with his uncle. A final example is how Professor Nemur and Doctor Strauss mistreat Charlie. They promise Charlie that they will help him and get him the life he always wanted; however, the Professors treat him like a lab rat and run continuous tests on him. This actually prevents Charlie from having the normal life they promised, and Charlie starts to bicker with Professor Nemur. “Our relationship is becoming increasingly strained. I resent Nemur’s constant references to me as a laboratory specimen. He makes me feel that before the experiment I was not really a human being” (Keyes 113). After multiple conflicts with Nemur Charlie leaves Beekman College and alienates himself from the Professors.
Similarly, a major theme in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is alienation. In this novel, Salinger develops the idea that alienation can be used as self-protection. The character being alienated is Holden Caulfield, a young boy trying to understand the world around him. Holden uses alienation to protect himself from rejection. When Holden sneaks back in his house to see his younger sister, she is disappointed in Holden for leaving yet another school (Salinger 167). Holden always believed that his sister would accept him no matter what, but after her rejection, Holden runs away from her room. He alienates himself away from Phoebe because of his fear of rejection. Holden also uses alienation to remove pain. He had a little brother whom he loved dearly, but he watched his little brother die of leukemia. Reflecting on this event, Holden states, “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody” (Salinger 214). Holden had given his little brother a lot of affection and after witnessing his death, Holden has a hard time opening up to anyone else or even spending time with others. Holden alienates himself from others because he does not want to be hurt again. Finally, Holden uses alienation to protect himself from the world of ‘phonies.’ Holden states everyone is a phony and is a false human being. For example, Holden thinks Sally Hayes is phony because she brings up topics only phonies talk about (Salinger 133). Consequently, Holden is rude to her and forces her to leave, because he would rather be alienated from everyone than spend time with a phony.
An additional point J.D. Salinger states about alienation, is that alienation causes pain and self destruction. Holden’s alienation leads directly to his depression. Holden states, “I was crying and all. I don’t know why, but I was. I guess it was because I was feeling so damn depressed and lonesome” (Salinger 153). Holden is only human and he longs for human contact, just like everyone else. This affects Holden, because he wants to be with someone but is not sure who he wants to be with. Holden’s alienation also causes him to think his life has no purpose. Holden holds a conversation with Mr. Spencer and says that he feels ‘trapped on the other side’ of life (Salinger 8). Life for Holden has been hard. He has become so alienated that he starts to wonder what his purpose in life is. This affects him deeply because he is clueless about what his problems are and why he feels so alienated from others, which is frustrating for him and causes his self-destruction. Holden’s alienation ultimately leads to his suicidal thoughts. He says, “I got up and went over and looked out the window. I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead” (Salinger 48). Even though Holden tries to reach out over and over, he always ends up alienated and alone. His alienation leads to depression, which leads to suicidal thoughts. Holden is not sure what use he could make with his life and he is not sure why he even was born.
In addition, Salinger is making the point that alienation can occur when an individual does not know how to properly interact with others. For example, when Holden isolates himself from the school football game. He describes the scene: “It was the Saturday of the football game. […] I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill. […] You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place. […]” (Salinger 2). Holden could have interacted with the crowd; however, Holden has an inability to connect with others because he claims he is superior to them and they are all phonies. This behaviour makes Holden unapproachable and difficult to be around. During another scene in the novel, Holden attempts to call someone to temporarily end his alienation and loneliness, but he ends up not calling anyone because he does not know what to say. “I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving somebody a buzz […] but as soon as I was inside, I couldn’t think of anybody to call up. My brother D.B. was in Hollywood. My kid sister Phoebe […] was out. I thought of giving Jane Gallagher’s mother a buzz […]. I thought of calling this girl […] Sally Hayes. […] I thought of calling […] Carl Luce. […] So I ended up not calling anybody” (Salinger 59). Holden clearly has many options at hand, but he does not know how to start a proper conversation. Instead, he rules out everyone because they have a flaw or because he imagines they’re too busy – using rationalization to justify his increased alienation. A final example is how Holden’s poor communication skills cause him to damage the relationships he is trying to create. Holden tries to break his alienation by inviting Sally Hayes on a date; however, Holden relies on his alienation to handle his fear of rejection. Therefore, when he begins to feel afraid, he falls back on rudeness and cruelty to push the person he is with away. He talks to Sally about “running away and living in a log cabin together.” She rejects Holden’s idea and in response he says, “You give me a royal pain in the ass” (Salinger 133). Holden’s poor communication skills have made him lonely once again and another individual has alienated Holden. Holden is unable to properly communicate with others, which increases his alienation and loneliness.
In conclusion, both Holden and Charlie face alienation. Both are rejected from society for being different. Alienation has negatively affected both characters and both ultimately go insane as a result. Both characters attempt to reduce their alienation from others through interaction which inevitably fails due to their major character flaws. Moreover, both Charlie and Holden feel as though they are superior to society and that they cannot find anyone on their level; thus their enormous egos cause further alienation from civilization. Even though Charlie and Holden have many similarities, they also have differences. These characters are alienated from society for different reasons. Charlie was first alienated from society for being mentally disabled, while Holden was alienated from society because he depended on alienation to protect himself and thus voluntarily moved away from others. Another difference is that the two characters react differently in the face of alienation. Charlie despises being alienated, while Holden embraces it. Ultimately, alienation causes both characters to be confused and depressed, which leads to a horrible ending for both of them.
An Importance to Create Happiness Around in Flowers For Algernon
Our society has created the illusion that nothing fulfilling ever happens. The constant focus on pessimistic topics in the press and the media has instilled a haze of negativity over all of us, and it seems as though we have lost the ability for optimism. However, that is not the case for Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon. In his instance, his mental disorder restricts him from realizing the world’s reality and harshness. Therefore, his contentedness is much greater than his peers’ because of his lack of knowledge.
Charlie’s mental restrictions made him a very easy target for provocative comments. His mentality wasn’t based upon his potential vulnerability like others which causes them to be defensive and judgmental, it was based on making friends and relating to others in a positive way. Even though he was being made fun of, for example when a girl said, “He’s a scream.” (pg. 208), he thought they were just making fun of him in a “mean friend” way, and therefore made him immune to their derogatory comments. Although he was oblivious to the meaning of their quizzacious remarks, he did have a feeling of embarrassment, “I wanted to hide myself.” (pg. 208) However, his feelings of embarrassment were caused by his thought that they were only teasing him in a different way, not in a negative way. Charlie never realized the underlying intention of his coworkers’ insults because of his optimistic mindset and his mental condition.
After Charlie’s operation, his intellectual level increased drastically and very suddenly causing him to realize certain things that he’d never noticed before. Not very long after the operation, he says, “Only a short time ago, I learned that people laughed at me. Now I see that unknowingly I joined in with them in laughing at myself” (pg. 216). Another example is when Charlie went to his old class and realized his mistake, “…I said holy smoke I reely pulled a Charlie Gordon that time.[SIC]” (pg. 223). He also realized that before his operation, his coworkers weren’t teasing him in a friendly manner after all, but denoting him as a dumb child oblivious to the world—which he was—and trying to degrade his mentality. After this incident, Charlie’s emotional state altered. He was no longer a buoyant child trying to befriend everyone; now he was very cautious and at the same time slowly being cloaked in the ominous haze of negativity where he was not as happy as he had been before he underwent the operation.
Once Charlie’s knowledge accumulation had reached its peak, his intelligence started to degenerate even faster than he had acquired it. Because of this, people began to pity him; but he didn’t want their pity, he just wanted to have friends who didn’t feel bad for him. In his words, “I dont want Miss Kinnian to feel sorry for me. Evrybody feels sorry at the factery and I dont want that eather so Im going someplace where nobody knows that Charlie Gordon was once a genus and now he cant even reed a book or rite good.[SIC]” (pg. 223). He felt that others wouldn’t like him anymore because of his loss of competence. As a result, he became depressed, not because he had become inept. but at the thought of being unaccepted and friendless. Charlie became depressed when he became mentally confined again, but he still focused his thoughts on becoming happy again by moving away and making new friends. Charlie may have been dejected, but it was caused by his feeling of failure, his feeling that he didn’t work hard enough to get smarter. He wouldn’t have experienced that feeling of failure if he hadn’t had the operation because he didn’t understand failure and pity before the procedure. Therefore, when we know more about certain emotions and their origins, we become more sensitive to them when felt. In the end however, Charlie left with a feeling of hope. He said “Im going to have lots of friends where I go.[SIC]” (pg. 223), which was the same mentality he had before the operation. Overall, Charlie may have been despondent after the operation, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t smart anymore, it was because he didn’t want his friends to reject and pity him, and in the end, he decided to stay positive and be happy whilst being in his state of ineptitude. We seek more knowledge in order to grow and advance in society and technology. However, we seem to miss the point of acquiring knowledge. Just knowing things won’t make us happy as portrayed by Charlie Gordon, but utilizing the things we know for the greater good can not only make us happier but also makes us stronger as individuals. Although ignorance does influence bliss and knowledge can create negative feelings, we must use both concepts in one way. That is to use the knowledge we have to create happiness we can achieve, not use knowledge we think we have. To be happier, we must educate ourselves in way that will benefit us for the greater good in order to dissolve the negative haze that surrounds us and create an enthusiastic aura around us to enforce positivity and eliminate pessimism.
Main Symbols And Elements in Flowers for Algernon
Symbols and motifs play an important role in Flowers for Algernon. Select at least 3 and explain their meanings and effectiveness.
Flowers for Algernon is an intense story about a retarded man, Charlie Gordon, who after an experimental operation, has is intelligence triple. The story follows his journey to intelligence and subsequent deterioration back to retardation. The story is told from the point of view of Charlie through progress reports he writes. Symbols and motifs are an important part of every story; they allow the author to covey themes and messages in different ways. Three important symbols and motifs in Flowers for Algernon are flashbacks, Little Charlie, and Algernon. Daniel Keys uses all of these to convey themes of intellectual disabilities as well as ideas on the past and the future.
An important theme in the story is flashbacks, starting soon after his operation Charlie begins having flashbacks to particularly traumatizing incidents in his childhood. These flashbacks continue throughout the story. Many of these incidents from his childhood have some sort of effect on present day Charlie and his actions and emotions. One memorable incident of this is Charlie’s inability to engage in sexual relationships, due to an incident from when he was young that ended with Rose beating him.
“He’s got no business to think that way about girls. A friend of his sister’s comes to the house and he starts thinking like that! I’ll teach him so he never forgets. Do you hear? If you ever touch a girl, I’ll put you away in a cage, like an animal, for the rest of your life. Do you hear me?….” (122, Keyes). Charlie has this flashback after becoming aroused by Alice. When Charlie was young he only had two emotions, fear and happiness, because of this treatment by his mother, Charlie learned to equate sex with fear. Making them so connected, that even after Charlie starts gaining intelligence sex equals fear. Charlie may have gained IQ, but he was still not emotionally intelligent. Until Charlie grew up emotionally his past continued to affect his present.
As Charlie develops, he starts to recognize what he calls, Little Charlie, the Charlie from the past, before the operation. Little Charlie is always there, watching, he is a symbol for Charlie’s emotional growth. Charlie explains Little Charlie to Alice like this,
“Not only did Charlie exist in the past, he exists now. In me and around me. He’s been coming between us all along. I thought my intelligence created the barrier…But that’s not it. It’s Charlie, the little boy that is afraid of women because of things his mother did to him. Don’t you see? All these months while I’ve been growing intellectually, I’ve still had the emotional wiring of the childlike Charlie. And every time I came close to you, or thought about making love to you, there was a short circuit” (201,202, Keyes). Charlie says it best; Little Charlie is (big) Charlie’s emotional level. He cannot love Alice because he still has the emotional scars from his mother beating him. Love takes emotional intelligence, and Charlie does not have that yet, as demonstrated by Little Charlie. Charlie also continues to revert back to his old intelligence (little Charlie) when he drinks too much, showing that Little Charlie is still present in him.
One of the most important symbols in Flowers for Algernon is Algernon himself. Throughout the story, Algernon is used as a literary device to foreshadow what will happen to Charlie. Towards the later half Algernon’s life Charlie describes his behavior, “He seems listless and confused…Instead of the careful determined movements down the maze corridors, his actions are rushed and out of control. Time and again he turns into a corner too quickly and crashes into a barrier. There is a strange sense of urgency in his behavior” (214, Keyes) Algernon’s erratic behavior and movements mirror Charlie, who later in the story devotes himself to his work with the same sort of rush. Charlie also loses motor function in the same way as Algernon did. What happens with Algernon will happen with Charlie. Another example is that Algernon’s intelligence reverts back to the levels that it was before the operation, the same way Charlie’s does. When Algernon dies it is foreshadowed that Charlie will soon die as well, although it never explicitly says that Charlie dies in the text, because of his life following Algernon’s it is assumed Charlie will die as well.
Flowers for Algernon is a powerful story about intellectual disabilities. The symbols and motifs throughout the story further the themes of the story. They allow the reader to more deeply connect with the story and its meanings. The themes in the story are exemplified by the symbols and motifs of flashbacks, little Charlie, and Algernon. Charlie Gordon overcomes retardation, only to revert back to it again, throughout he is the same person inside, no matter the IQ level, overall what difference do a few IQ points make; a person is a person, no matter what.
The Analysis of Charlie Gordon’s Character
What defines a “hero” can vary immensely, depending on whom you ask: some heroes can be veterans who fight for their country, while others can just be common citizens who help and save others. But could someone who survives a risky operation have the qualities of a hero? In the short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, the main protagonist Charlie Gordon, a thirty-seven year old adult with an I.Q. of sixty-eight, takes a life risking operation to triple his I.Q. After the operation when Charlie realizes the after effects that he will soon have, he grows regretful and suicidal feelings. As a result, he grows increasingly regretful and suicidal feelings. Although Charlie Gordon feels hopeless and suicidal, Charlie Gordon possesses heroic qualities because he has seen his fate through Algernon and chooses to accept his fate. In addition, Charlie has the courage to abandon his past and start again in a new environment just so his friends do not have to feel sorry for him. Even if Charlie Gordon did not directly help anyone, he still possesses the qualities of a hero.
For instance, Charlie Gordon takes part in an operation he does not fully understand, but after, he starts to have suicidal thoughts but Charlie has the courage to persevere. “I want to be left to myself. I have become touchy and irritable. […] Its hard to throw of thoughts of suicide” (533). Charlie’s feelings are very negative, but even then he still tries to fight them off and he states that it is very hard. Instead of crying and giving up, Charlie Gordon is still mindful of how his participation in the operation will help others like him in the future. After the effects of the operation completely wear off, Charlie does not feel sad, instead he feels grateful of what he experiences during his moment of intelligence, even for a fleeting moment. “If you ever read this Miss Kinnian dont be sorry for me Im glad I got a second chanse to be smart becaus I lerned a lot of things that I never even new were in this world and Im grateful that I saw it all for a littel bit.” Even though Charlie experiences all the pain and suffering, he still feels grateful for what he still has despite the amount. Other than focusing on what he has lost, Charlie concentrates on how he will grow from his previous experiences. Charlie Gordon is a very kind and extremely thoughtful man, he does not have a single bit of negativity in him.
Charlie is heroic because he has the courage to start anew in an unfamiliar environment where all sorts of people can belittle and insult him, just so everyone he knows do not have to feel sympathy about his condition “I dont want Miss Kinnian to feel sorry for me. Evry body feels sorry at the factory and I dont want that eather…” (538). Charlie is very considerate of other people’s feelings; he does not want them to feel sorry or guilty about himself. He loves and cares about all the people from his past and is willing to sacrifice himself into a new world just so they do not have to feel bad about anything. Charlie also knows how to defend himself against bullies when they insult him; he does so without harming them, as seen from his progress reports. “I told myself Charlie if they make fun of you dont get sore because you remember their not so smart as you once thot they were once your friends and if they laughed at you that doesnt mean anything because they liked you too” (536). Here, Charlie reassures himself that he does not need to fight back when his friends insult him. Instead, he tells himself that those who laugh at him “[are] not so smart as [Charlie] once thot they were” and so they have no reason to mock him. A mindset such as this shows how thoughtful Charlie is. Instead of openly criticizing his bullies, he raises his own confidence and self-esteem.
Some may argue that Charlie Gordon is an absent minded man that accidentally did something for science and may even call Charlie a coward for running from his past life. He never knew what he was getting himself into until after his intelligence triples from the operation. “Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur have asked me not to come to the lab any more. I know what they’re thinking, but I can’t accept it” (531). If Charlie Gordon realizes the risks and aftereffects of the operation before the doctors perform it,, he would never choose to participate. Charlie Gordon finally understands what he has gotten himself into and cannot accept what is going to happen to him. In order to have heroic qualities you must understand what you are risking and sacrificing and for whom in order to actually have the bravery and courage of a hero.
Although this way of thinking has logic, it does not take in the whole picture. The same evidence can support the completely opposite side if all points are taken into consideration.“Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur have asked me not to come to the lab any more. I know what they’re thinking, but I can’t accept it” (531). Even if Charlie does not fully understand the operation, he adapts to the situation he finds himself in after and bears the hardships. Charlie Gordon states that he cannot accept it, but in the end he ends up persevering and continuing his research to help other mentally disabled people like himself. Despite his condition, Charlie continues to care for everyone around him, even those who ridicule him.Charlie Gordon carries heroic qualities because he has the will the adapt to and fix any situation, no matter how difficult. He may feel suicidal and hopeless because of the operation, but he still persists in the research to help people who are mentally disabled. Charlie also has courage to abandon his past just so his friends do not have to feel sympathetic about his mental and emotional state.
Charlie is not a typical hero. He may not have superhuman strength or supernatural skills, but he cares immensely about people. He is thoughtful of people’s feelings, which is what makes Charlie a definite hero. Charlie Gordon was a hero in his very own way just as we all are every time we do something kind for each other. Everyone, from children to adults, even those with low cognitive abilities can really do something great for many people’s individual/personal view of the world, even if its something small such as kindness it has the potential to completely change someone’s view of the world.
A Theme Of Motivation In Flowers For Algernon By Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes suggests when putting with the motivation you will have to strive in order to complete the goal. During the book, Charlie was faced with 3 main stages of life to make it to his end goal which is becoming smart so people will like him, at first when Charlie was first told about the experiment when he made it to his end goal but it wasn’t how he thought it would be like and when he started losing his intelligence. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys show when Charlie was chosen an experiment his motivations are to become smart and as a result of that, he strives and excelled the scientist’s expectations.
At the beginning of the book, Charlie had a deep motivation to become smart and is willing to do anything in order to achieve that goal, this is very evident in three main quotes that show his enthusiasm for the experiment. The first quote, “Miss Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart.” said Charlie shows his enthusiasm and open-mindedness to the experiment which gives him the push he needs to in order to become smart. The second quote that shows his motivation to be smart is when Charlie “I just want to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends”, this quote shows his high desire and motivation to have friends and to be liked. Finally, the last quote of Charlie, when he was in his “retarded” state, was a phrase many of his co-workers use to explain what it means to do something dumb, this quote that his peers used is “He really pulled a Charlie Gordon that time.” this phrase means that don’t mess up on something simple, but when he was at this stage he was carefree and never wanted to live up to somebody’s expectations, he was just happy and loving life. To conclude, if you have lower intelligence, then you are more knowledgeable about the real world which can lead to being more happy or sad.
When Charlie started getting more intelligent he realized the truth about his peers and how smart the doctors really are. As he started getting more intelligent he always thought of the scientists as a high standing person who knows everything that can be taught like Charlie knew but he soon realized that his image of them was wrong, this is very evident when Charlie said “As shocking as it is to discover the truth about men I had respected and looked up to” this shows the beginning of a train of disappointment which starts off his series of anger. After the experiment went public, Professor Nemur treated him more like an object than like a human being so Charlie finally fights back and says, “I was a person before the operation. In case you forgot.” this represents that Charlie is now knowledgeable of the mockery that people are doing to him because before he never knew any better. Finally, after Charlie got drunk in fays apartment, he learned that the scientists never actually got rid of the old Charlie but just pushed him to the side and when Charlie got drunk old Charlie would come back out, “In spite of the operation Charlie was still with me” said Charlie. To conclude, as Charlie was getting smarter, he would have more anger attacks which are a result of the frustration he is experiencing from having many heartbreaking realizations at once.
Once Charlie started losing his intelligence, he didn’t weep about it but he used that as a motivation to finish his report so the scientists can learn from it and do better. When he learned that his intelligence is going down he realized that time was short to make a difference so he pushed his work to finish his report, “My own mental deterioration will be quite rapid.” said Charlie when he learned that his intelligence is going down faster than he had thought. After some time for Charlie to digest the news of him not having his intelligence anymore, he realized that he is going to much happier having a lower IQ “Intelligence … that hasn’t been tempered by human affection isn’t worth a damn.” said Charlie when he thinking about how things will be different, how he will lose everything and making any desperate attempt to keep at least a fraction of the intelligence. After Charlie forgot everything, his intelligence, the love of his life, his new relationship with his sister, he remembered one thing, which is the mouse that had started everything, the mouse Algernon, “Please … put some flowrs on Algernon’s grave in the bak yard” this was Charlie’s last words in the final progress report and it showed that all the fake happiness he had from these other things he forgot when he became happy again but he remembered Algernon. To conclude, as Charlie was losing intelligence, he would be more at peace the more it would lose.
When Charlie’s motivation was achieved, he had a realization which was not everything you want is what you need, meaning that when you have a goal or you want something it doesn’t always mean that you need it or it is a necessity to have that, this is a prime example of Charlie thinking he needs to be smart in order to make friends or to have a good life.
Theme Analysis Of Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon
The author of the novel Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, conveys the idea that brilliance does not always lead to wisdom or happiness, because gaining intelligence could open the door to issues you may not have had or known about.
Intellect does not necessarily have a correlation with judgment. Charlie writes as a postscript in his final progress report: “please tel prof Nemur not to be such a grouch when pepul laff at him and he woud have more frends”. Nemur is portrayed as egotistical, and feels irrationally threatened by anyone that might be smarter than him, leading his colleagues to loathe him. Despite being a brilliant scientist, he lacks the judgment to understand that his jealousy and resent is immature. When pressed for advice on a moral decision, Alice, Charlie’s teacher, tells Charlie, “In some ways you’re so advanced, and yet when it comes to making a decision, you’re still a child. The answer can’t be found in books”. Charlie just recently started gaining knowledge at an incredible pace, and despite being a genius, he’s emotionally immature. Charlie relies too heavily on his knowledge, and when it’s time to make an important moral decision, his lack of judgment is made evident. Wisdom is having knowledge, and having the judgment to know what to do with that knowledge, but even the smartest people could be imprudent.
Intelligence alone is not enough to bring joy. Charlie gets into a drunken argument with the men responsible for his change in intelligence, and tells them how he really feels about it: “Intelligence that hasn’t been tempered by human affection isn’t worth a damn.…When I was retarded I had lots of friends. Now I have no one”. Charlie is unable to have a serious lasting relationship with anyone, as a friend or romantically, after his transformation. Nemur and the others encourage him to focus only on gaining as much knowledge as possible after his transformation, and while he advanced rapidly intellectually, he stays emotionally underdeveloped, partly leading to his loneliness, and then depression and anger. Soon after the argument, Charlie has a realization: “I was an arrogant, self-centered bastard. I was incapable of making friends or thinking about other people and their problems. I was interested in myself, and myself only”. Charlie’s incessant arrogance drives many of his colleagues and mentors into despising him. As Charlie gets smarter, he gets increasingly ignorant to what people think of him, and his lack of self-awareness results in him growing more and more despondent as he’s not sure why he has no friends. Knowledge has the ability to bring happiness, but in certain scenarios, especially well-illustrated in Charlie’s extreme example, it can lead to depression or anger.
Newfound intelligence can bring undesirable truth. Alice gets in an argument with Charlie, and says, “Before you had the operation, you weren’t like this. You didn’t wallow in your own filth and self-pity, you didn’t pollute your own mind by sitting in front of the TV set all day and night, you didn’t snarl and snap at people”. Before Charlie has the operation, he is polite and happy, but for most of the period from then until he recedes back to his original state, he is cynical and nihilistic. This is because he realizes how terribly some people treated him just because he was intellectually disabled. Soon after his change in intelligence, Charlie is invited to a party by his friends, and after having been ridiculed and taunted he realizes: “I never knew before that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around just to make fun of”. He has the revelation that practically no one in his life before the surgery really cared about him. Charlie loses all of his friends after his gain in intelligence either because they find the unnatural change immoral, or Charlie realizes they were never his real friends, and only thought they were because they wanted to keep someone with a learning disability around to mock. Charlie’s depression is caused by his new insight into how cruel people could be.
Knowledge is no measure of reason or compassion, and a lack of emotion or affection could be brought on by maturing intellectually.
The Consequences of Technology in Flowers for Algernon, a Short Story by Daniel Keyes
Too Good to be True
“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” an old adage says; there are often hidden costs behind seemingly harmless offers. Bars in the late 1800’s often advertised “free” lunch if a customer bought one of their drinks. However these complimentary items were often high in salt, causing the consumer to become thirsty. As a result, the restaurant would profit off this exchange as customers would spend more money buying more drinks. Technology can easily be compared to the free lunch. Although there are many benefits to technology, the underlying expenses are even more harmful. In the short story “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, technology is something that the main character seeks out as an opportunity to become smarter. This good opportunity results in a disaster as he becomes more lonely and separated from those he cares about. Technology is also a major reason why so many are lazy today. The minimal effort to completing tasks has caused people to become increasingly lazy and undisciplined. The improvement in the fields of transportation and manufacturing have also greatly impacted the globe negatively. Humanity’s advancement is Mother Earth’s calamity. Increased carbon dioxide emission due to technology has resulted in the Earth heating up faster than it has in thousands of years. Technology solved problems but results in people feeling separated from each other, increasingly lazy and fuels of global warming.
Although Charlie, the main character, has become smarter from the technology provided to improve him, many bad things result from it. Charlie originally has an IQ of 68 and after the operation, his IQ triples, making him smarter than even the doctors that operated on him. The best opportunity for Charlie turns out to be his worst nightmare. After Charlie gets fired from his job, he states that his new “intelligence has driven a wedge between [him] and all the people [he] once knew and loved” (297). The technology used to help Charlie ends up hurting him more than it helps him. His co-workers become scared of him for suddenly gaining so much intelligence. This leads to Charlie being ignored by others and him becoming forlorn. Charlie’s operation isn’t advantageous to him overall because though it helps improve Charlie’s intelligence, his social relationships are greatly harmed. He becomes increasingly lonely and separated from others around him. Charlie’s artificial acuity also leads to him not being able to communicate with the person he is in love with. A few weeks after he is fired from his job, he goes to talk to Miss Kinnian but soon realizes that “no matter what [he tries] to discuss with her, [he] is unable to communicate” (298). Charlie’s artificial intelligence restricts him from be able to properly communicate with Miss Kinnian, the love of his life. When he tries to start a conversation, he speaks in a way Miss Kinnian cannot understand. This creates a barrier between the two and denies Charlie the chance to express his true feelings. Many would think Charlie has benefitted because he is able to learn and understand things at a much faster rate. But despite possessing this ability, he becomes closed off and unable to communicate with others. His newest improvement proves to have many limitations. After the operation Charlie is not able to communicate well with others and that results to him not having social happiness. He eventually becomes touchy, depressed and moody which means he loses happiness in the attempt to become more successful. Charlie’s experience proves that although on the outside technology appears appealing, the adverse hidden costs can be deleterious.
Technology is something that is directly responsible to making humans lazier. People will often take technological aids for granted to the point where “If they are stripped away, some people may not be able to function as well without them” (Previl). There are many cases where people are addicted to their phones. In fact, “84 percent of respondents [in an international survey] said that they could not go a single day without their cellphones” (Gilbert). Some people who don’t have their phones will feel anxiety or negative physical symptoms (nomophobia). This directly correlates with Previl’s theory that people cannot function properly without technology. It is hard to imagine how people would live without household innovations like fridges or microwaves. Technology is helpful to humans, but at a certain point, people might become helpless when technology fails. People may go insane without access to the technology that they have depended on. Students are also affected by the constantly developing tools. Academic dishonesty has consistently been an issue among students, but with the uprise of the internet “35% of teens admit to using a cell phone to cheat at school, while 65% say other students do it” (Kurtz). The article briefly describes how technology and the internet changes the perception of cheating towards teens. Searching for information quickly allows students to find all the answers they need, and they often don’t realize what they are doing is wrong. Information is so accessible to everyone that people don’t feel as if plagiarizing off the internet is doing something dishonest. The accessibility of the internet is resulting in people becoming increasingly lazy to actually do the schoolwork they are assigned.
Another increasing issue for people all around the world is obesity. The issue is in fact so serious that “one in every three adults and one in every six children in the United States is obese” (Crees). The great amount of Americans that have this serious condition can be blamed on the fact that the “average American watches five hours of TV” (Hinckley). This is one of the biggest factors that contributes to obesity. When people are watching TV, they will often remain stationary on the couch and snack on junk food. Sitting and eating unhealthy food for three or more hours a day is very harmful to the health of that person. They gain unwanted fat which can lead to “more than 70 illnesses” (Watson) including stroke, cancer and high blood pressure. With the invention of the TV, people are provided with hours of entertainment accessible right at their fingertips. This revolutionary device may seem like it is actually helping people because it makes life much easier and convenient. This is an understandable point of view but the evidence provided proves that many people abuse the gift of technology. The improved devices are used in the thought that it would help them but ultimately, people are harmed by it. People misuse technology to the point where it is not only harming their health, but also their integrity.
Another phenomenon caused by innovations would be global warming. Global warming is a detrimental problem towards the world and humanity’s future. Global warming is often said to be caused by a “combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production” (National Geographic). Cars, factories and electricity are all forms of technology. They are all objects that have improved the efficiency and lifestyle of humans. The emissions of these developments has led to massive crop failures, killer storms, extinction of animals and rising sea levels. The consistent use of chemical fertilizers has led to a “high rate of application of nitrogen-rich fertilizers has effects on the heat storage of cropland” (Markham). People use these chemicals to help with the production of food in a more efficient process. In the long run, this action is a harmful one. With the usage of the fertilizers it depletes the soil of nutrients, and the presence of the harmful chemicals remain within the soil. This directly correlates with there being a lack of agricultural output. Technology is something that is harming people’s relationships, morals, health and the world they live in. Some may argue that global warming is just a hoax created by the government but statistics taken of carbon dioxide emissions and the large amounts of melting ice beg to differ. In the movie Chasing Ice where a crew of people are capturing the melting of polar ice caps, there is one line of dialogue that really struck a chord with its audience. For the past “800,000 years or so, atmospheric carbon dioxide was never higher than about 280 parts per million … And now it’s about 390 parts per million” (Balong). This piece of dialogue spoken in the movie shows how much damage humans have done over a small course in time. There hasn’t been much change for nearly a million years but when technology started innovating, the carbon dioxide level rose more than it ever had. Studies done by many scientists have shown that the presence of technology has in fact greatly harmed the world. These effects of global warming can be a very harmful to humanity and the world people live in. If this behavior continues, sometime down the line, humans are going to run into a serious issue that will definitely put their lives at risk.
The great issues of community barriers between people, people becoming less active and the environment being harmed shows that technology is definitely hurting people more than it is helping them. Technology is something that proves to be too good to be true. Too good to be true is a phrase that describes things that are seem so great that it’s unbelievable; there is definitely some sort of hidden cost. Technology is said to help connect people on a wider scale but it is proven in “Flowers for Algernon” that the people Charlie were once close with were driven away from him. Charlie’s opportunity to get smarter seems wonderful but the underlying cost is that he feels separated from the people he cares about. He is unable to communicate well with others and develop healthy relationships, ultimately putting his happiness awry. Technology also is proven to be “too good to be true” because the constant use of it results in people also becoming increasingly lazy, a loss of their morals, deteriorating health and the eventual destruction of Earth. Many innovations are also causing harm to the world people reside in. Although there are many positives to it, ultimately, technology is something that will harm more than it helps. Technology the perfect example of something that is too good to be true.
Challenges Of Being Intelligent In Daniel Keyes’ Novel Flowers For Algernon
People who are intelligent often face many challenges in life. This is certainly true in Daniel Keyes’ novel, Flowers for Algernon where the main character, Charlie faces many challenges after he becomes intelligent. Charlie’s transformation into an intelligent person leads to him facing a lot of different social problems as well as him going through a wave of different emotions all at once. Therefore, Charlie’s life is more difficult now that he is intelligent.
Firstly, Charlie experiences many challenges with his emotions once he becomes intelligent. Charlie learns that the bakers have been mistreating him the whole time and are not his friends. When Charlie gains his intelligence, he learns what shameful things the bakers were saying such as “Now I know what they mean when they say ‘to pull a Charlie Gordon’ I’m ashamed” (Keyes 42). Charlie came to realize that the bakers have been making fun of him behind his back, even though he considered them as his friends and thought that they viewed him as equal. The only reason Charlie wanted to become intelligent, was for his mother’s love and acceptance because ever since he was a child, all she wanted was for him to be smart. The only thought that constantly went across Charlie’s mind was how he “never stopped wanting to be… the smart boy… so that she would love me.” As he was not intelligent while growing up, he thought that the only way his mother will love him and be pleased if he was smart. At Professor Nemar’s cocktail party, Charlie Gordan admits that his life was better before the operation because back then he had friends, but now his intelligence has caused him to isolate from everyone. At the end, Charlie also adds that “Intelligence… that hasn’t been tempered by human affection isn’t worth a damn.” He believed that along with intelligence he would also receive love, friends and acceptance, however, the opposite occurred making him came to the realization that without love, intelligence is worthless. Therefore, Charlie comes to a realization that being intelligent doesn’t give you a better life.
Furthermore, Charlie encounters several social problems as a result of his intelligence. He got mistreated several times by others because he was not smart. While he was talking to Professor Nemur, Charlie expresses himself and tells the Nemur that he “was a person before the operation. In case you forgot.” He felt as if he was treated more like an object than a human being and this was mainly because the professor was incapable of considering someone with low IQ a human being. Charlie Gordan starts changing into a new person towards the end of the story when he loses his intelligence, and this is shown when Alice comes to visit him but he doesn’t let her in. “I wouldn’t let her in because I didn’t want her to laff at me.” says Charlie as Alice Kinnian was the only woman he ever loved and Charlie didn’t want her to stop loving him because he was losing his intelligence. Charlie Gordan used to be the person who always people to laugh at him so he would feel happy, but due to his current mental state, he has become the opposite which is creating distance between him and the woman he loves. At the end, Charlie Gordan looks back and reflects on the experience he gained while he was living life as an intellectual. “Now I know I had a family and I was a person just like evryone.” says Charlie as he starts to recall his past and family. Although he lost his intelligence, he still ended up recognizing that he is a person of value. Ever since Charlie got smarter, he lost more than he gained.
In conclusion, Charlie’s life becomes more challenging ever since he turns into a significantly intelligent person than he was before. Charlie had to deal with a lot of different emotions and also had to put up with issues regarding his mother and people he considered friends. Furthermore, he also has to face a lot of problems with society, simply due to the fact that initially, he was not as intelligent as the people around him were and was forever being judged. Therefore, it is very common for intelligent people to go through various different struggles in their lifetime.
Intelligence Versus Happiness In Flowers For Algernon By Daniel Keyes
Flowers For Algernon is a novel written in a series of progress reports from protagonist Charlie Gordan. From the beginning author Daniel Keyes makes it quite clear that Charlie suffers from mental disability. Barely able to read and write, Charlie is forced to make a decision that will impact his life forever. Scientists from Beekman University, Harold Strauss and Prof. Nemur needed a volunteer to test experimental science in intelligence enhancement. Charlie was specifically selected from “The teaching centre for retarded adults” after being recommended from his long time teacher Alice Kinnian. Charlie, was eager to get his surgery and become smart, but first they needed permission from someone in his family, Charlie still unable to recall memories, does not remember where his family is, or if he even has any still alive. Norma Gordon, Charlie’s sister was found by the University staff and granted permission to perform the surgery. Although Charlie did not have the full understanding of what a friend is, once he got to the lab he made an unlikely friend.
‘I think I’ll be friends with Algernon’. Algernon, the white lab mouse who has learned to solve complex mazes, escape almost any cage, and display emotions through his actions. This is a sign of hope for both the doctors and Charlie, as this is the first time the surgery has stuck, and the intelligence gained from it has not dissipated rapidly. Let’s face it, he lives in a cage and runs through mazes for food. Most importantly, Algernon couldn’t exactly give his permission for a mind-altering surgery. As a helpless animal, he’s totally at the mercy of the scientists. And he’s not the only one. Charlie, too, has barely any ability to tell Strauss and Nemur no, let alone give his consent for all the things they do to him in the name of science. As Algernon and Charlie experience a similar task and a similar testing, Algernon’s is a foreshadowing of Charlie’s future. At the point when Algernon starts to lose his intelligence, it is a chilling sign that Charlie’s very own psychological additions will start to dissapear as well. Algernon additionally symbolizes Charlie’s status as a subject of the researchers, secured and confined, compelled to go through all testing at the researchers’ desire. Charlie relates to this mouse, as he understands both are simply lab investigations to the researchers examining them. Although he grieves when Algernon passes, a special request is made the flowers be put on his grave, symbolizing mourning and memories with him.
Within the first 4 months of the surgery, Charlie’s IQ has jumped over 50 points, and is only increasing faster the higher it gets. Dr. Strauss and Prof. Nemur have Charlie consistently learning, and Charlie’s motivation has not declined. In the first month of the surgery Charlie was having a hard time sleeping, the doctors realized Charlie’s ability to learn is similar to that of a baby, soaking in the information, so they play complex speech of different regions of the world and Charlie quickly becomes multi-lingual. However with this intelligence, Charlie starts to have memories of his tragic childhood home life, and also realizes that his whole life he thought he had friends, but they were really just making fun of his retardation. “People have always spoken and acted as if I were not there, as if they never cared what I overheard”. Recalling past memories from the Bakery, Charlie recounts specific times his friends would try to teach him new things and what was not obvious before, is now, they weren’t teaching Charlie, they were making fun of his lack of understanding for their own enjoyment. Now Charlie has come to the realization that he has not had the friends he thought he had, but this just motivates him more to prove everyone wrong, and his family which he is slowly starting to have memories of. “Dont look at your sister in a sexual way! That’s wrong! Get him out of the house now!” was Charlie’s first memories of his mother’s words. Charlie remembers for the first time, he describes it as an out of body experience, as if two Charlie’s were there and he was stuck in the background watching. His mother beats him, and young Charlie dirties his pants, further enraging his mother, causing her to get a belt, but before he gets beaten, he awakens. Now that Charlie’s IQ has risen and his intelligence is rapidly increasing, he is starting to experience emotions he’s never felt before, rage, hate, love, confusion, Charlie is starting to understand his troubled past and exclusion he felt from his parents.
Dr. Strauss and Prof Nemur congratulate Charlie on his IQ surpassing 100, and explain to him his is the fastest learning human ever. Charlie now is becoming just as smart as these doctors, and begins questioning the way they are treating him. “It may sound like ingratitude, but that is one of the things that I resent at the University – the attitude that I am a guinea pig, or the constant references to having made me what I am, how can I make then understand they did not create me. Charlie starts to question his own humanity, and if the doctors understand he is human too, before and after the surgery. As Charlie’s intelligence continues to increase, his faint memories become more prominent, and he is starting to realize that his previous ignorance caused him less stress and anxiety then now. Meanwhile Dr. Strauss and prof. Nemur inform Charlie of the press conference of psychological science taking place in Chicago, and is excited to attend. It is at this point, when the press conference starts when the world is opened up, Charlie realizes how people view him once the conference starts. “ We who have works on this project at Beekman University have the satisfaction of knowing we have taken one of nature’s mistakes and by our new techniques created a superior human being” Prof, Nemur continues to explain how Charlie was not a part of society before the surgery, and had no contact with the present to live a normal life. These statements provoked Charlie, from a wandering clueless man, to having all of this stress placed upon him; it took everything in Charlie to not defend himself. “I’m a human being, a person- with parents and memories and a history – and I was before you ever wheeled me into that operating room!” thought Charlie. The permanence of the surgery unknown, Charlie knew that the doctor’s conclusions had been premature, for both Algernon and himself. “Like Algernon, I found myself behind the mesh of the cage they had built around me.” From this point onward, Charlie was determined to get out of there, with Algernon, who he finds to be his only trusting friend nowadays. Sneakily, Charlie unlatched Algernon’s cage, and as he escaped chaos ensued in the conference. Algernon’s intelligence, along with Charlie’s helped them escape as everyone frantically tried to find them, as Prof Nemur said, if we do not find him, our whole experiment is in danger. Through the commotion Charlie had an epiphany. Through his multi-linguistics, Charlie has read up on advancing Hindu, Arabic research, he found a tragic flaw in the doctor’s research, and knows that not everything is as he hoped, and his intelligence may be dissipating faster than anticipated. “First I’ve got to see my parents. As soon as I can. I may not have all the time I thought I had.”
When Charlie reunites with his parents, he knows that things are not as they used to be, or as his brief memories serve him. Charlie struggles with the fact his parents may not remember who he is, or care enough to get to know him, but he is determined to discover his past, and find out who he really was before the surgery. After visiting his father at his barber shop, and his mother with his sister, he understands now that neither of them were ever concerned with him, simply overwhelmed with what others thought and portraying the perfect family to anyone overlooking. It is as this point when Charlie starts to question what his happiness truly means, and he realizes that his rapidly increasing intelligence has not made him happier, except unfold all the troubles and stress that takes place in his life, along with others.
To support the theme that intelligence doesn’t bring happiness, there are many clues throughout the novel that hint to Charlie’s experiences. Charlie discovers that the friends he always though he had regularly exploited him before the surgery. This makes Charlie become suspicious of the general population around him. He understands now that his co-workers were simply using him to continue to make jokes. Likewise, he was fired from the bakery that he cherished so much, since his new knowledge made the laborers around him feel sub-par compared to Charlie. This sends him into a short depression. He had no one to identify with in light of the fact that now, Charlie’s knowledge has just surpassed that of the scientist testing him. He had nobody to relate to because at this point, Charlie’s intelligence has already exceeded that of his teacher and the doctors. Before Charlie became smart, even the simplest experiences in life were good enough for him. As a genius, none of those things mattered to him. His mind was more complex, he needed more. For Charlie, happiness is determined both by his intelligence level but also his level of human connection.
In his brief time as a “normal” person, Charlie discovers great pain, both in and of himself but he also discovers great joy. When he is finally able to make love to Alice, he describes it as a tremendous experience. He sees “how important physical love was, how necessary it was for us to be in each other’s arms, giving and taking. The universe was exploding… As when men to keep from being swept overboard in the storm clutch at each other’s hands to resist being torn apart, so our bodies fused a link in the human chain that kept us from being swept into nothing”. Even after Charlie has regressed, he still remembers the happiness he experienced during his time with his friends and loved ones; he asks people not to feel bad for him, for he says: “I’m glad I found out all about my family and me… now I know I had a family and I was a person just like everyone”. Keyes demonstrates all of this in two important ways. Contradictory to my thesis, he shows how intelligence can be bliss. As Charlie’s intelligence was rapidly increasing, he threw himself into his research, and he thoroughly enjoyed learning while he could. Charlie admits his thirst to learn is unquenchable. Keyes does not completely refuse the idea that ignorance is bliss; he shows that Charlie is happiest when disabled, and consistently upset and distraught when intelligent. The smarter Charlie got, the less happy he got, but he did not let that stop him from trying to help others.
Not only did Charlie go through major changes in his intelligence levels, he also experiences new feelings and sensations in his romantic life and the relationships he develops. From the beginning of the novel, Charlie is completely ignorant to females, and his mother Rose Gordon would beat him any time he got an erection or had sexual thoughts. Keyes most significant point about affection and sexuality is Freudian in nature, human sexuality starts with youth experience. After Charlie Gordon turns into a genius, he’s overwhelmed by mental trips of his youth self, the broken memories he always experiences, a disguised depiction of his sexual weaknesses. As a child, Charlie’s mom would punish and beat him for demonstrating any enthusiasm for ladies. “She comes toward him, screaming that he is a bad boy, and Charlie runs to his father for help”. This infers that Charlie’s youth encounters give him a changeless attitude for engaging in sexual relations with ladies, brought about by an obsession with a solid, oppressive mother figure. Since he’s as yet terrified of his mom’s disciplines, Charlie can’t perform explicitly with the ladies he meets in the wake of turning into a genius. Charlie does struggle with relationships, however the relationships he had formed previous to his surgery hadn’t been what he thought. Now able to understand emotions and recall memories, he realizes that his friends would bully him regardless of his state, before or after the surgery.
Whilst Charlie worked at the bakery, before his surgery, the other workers would constantly tease his inability to learn all while he was too ignorant to know what they were doing. The same can be said for Dr. Strauss and Prof Nemur, as once Charlies increase of intelligence starts to surpass their own. When video is shown of Charlie before the surgery, struggling to communicate or perform tests, everyone laughs. When Charlie tries to defend himself, now finally capable too himself, he gets shunned from the group. Keyes suggests that humans have a tendency to control the people weaker, and fear the people who are stronger. Why do bullies bully?
Charlie quickly learned once his intelligence increased, that all the time he thought he had friends it wasn’t as it appeared. It is sometimes hard to understand why bullies bully. In earlier life, bullying often takes place because the bully believes it will make them more popular or respected. Once they realize they can get away with it, and they start getting more attention and respect for their harmful actions, it often becomes an addictive behavior. It may not be only physical, often times verbal bullying can go unnoticed because of how quick and easy it is. However as life continues and people get older, the motives behind bullying change slightly. Bullies fear the people in charge, and will take any advantage they can to put someone down or lower their social status if possible. Whether it’s over an insecurity, or the bully himself has had a troubled childhood, a common form of bullying is exclusion. Charlie experiences both types of this bullying. Before his intelligence, his peers would make fun of him, since to his low level of intelligence he could not defend himself or take action, in fact he did not even understand that he was being bullied in the first place. Later on, once Charlie’s intelligence has surpassed the doctors and everyone he knew, he experienced the exclusion and unwantedness his peers felt. Charlie was not understood, and at every point in his life he was made fun of for being better or worse.
The novel Flowers for Algernon creates the line of intelligence versus happiness. Through Charlies triumphs and tribulations, Keyes makes it clear that Charlies rapid increase in intelligence did not attribute to an overall happiness. The definition of intelligence is: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge skills. Going past this definition, Keyes proves that as your intelligence increases so does your awareness to the world around you, and the constant pressures someone can face at any moment in their life. Charlie proves that ignorance is bliss, and the value of human life is much more than being just intelligent, relationships, family, and overall happiness in day to day living is the most important thing.
The Impact Of Heart Transplantation On Charlie In Flowers For Algernon By Daniel Keyes
In 1967 the first ever human heart transplant was performed. This surgery saves thousands of lifes a year. In the novel Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, a 32-year-old mentally retarted man, Charlie Gorden, wants to participate in an intelligence quotation (IQ) surgery. This surgery will raise his intelligence and help him be able to learn. As time goes on Charlie’s IQ gets higher so does his Emotional Quotation (EQ), and Morality Quotation (MQ).
At the beginning of Flowers for Algernon Charlie has an IQ of 68. In progress report 5, March 6 Charlie writes “He actually begged to be used. And that’s true because I wanted to be smart” The quote shows how many mistakes Charlie is making in his writing at the beginning of the book. After Charlie’s surgery on March 7 he writes “I want to go back to work in the bakery and not rite programs progress reports anymore.” In this sentence Charlie corrects his spelling on the word progress. Before the surgery, Charlie couldn’t correct himself on spelling, this sentence is an example of Charlie’s progression. Later on at the end of the book Charlie goes from being smarter than the teachers, back to a mentally retorted man who can’t put sentences together or spell. On October 18 Charlie states “I’m forgetting things I learned recently….the last things learned are the first things forgotten.” Even Charlie knows that his surgery is reversing.
Charlie changes in other ways than being smart, his EQ is another important part of the book. In the beginning, Charlie’s is a sweet, loving, funny man who does not care what people think of him, all he wants is some friends. Charlie says “I just want to be smart like other pupil so I can have lots of friends who like me.” Nevertheless, when Charlie starts to lose his intelligence he acts more and more like a child. When Charlie’s racing mouse , who has had the same surgery as Charlie, Algernon died on September 15 Charlie has lots of emotions. He buries Algernon in his backyard with flowers and tells his friends in the book to put flowers on his grave when they can. On the last progress report November 21 Charlies lastly writes “P.S. please tel prof Nemur not to be such a grouch when pupil laugh at him and he would have more friends. It’s easy to have friends if you let pupil laugh at you. I’m going to have lots of friends where I go.” Charlie is showing lots of sympathy for all of the friends he thinks is leaving behind when he becomes restarted again. Charlie thinks that because he is becoming dumber that he will be a whole different person.
Morality is the difference between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. In Charlie’s case it is both behavior and right or wrong. For example, when Charlie’s co-worker Gimpy was stealing from the bakery they worked at, Charlie didn’t know if he should tell his boss Mr. Donner, or mind his own business. When Charlie gets stuck on his decision he goes to his teacher/lover Miss. Kinnian. She tells him “In some ways you are so advanced, yet when it comes to making a decision, you’re still a child….you’ve got to learn to trust yourself.” This opens Charlie’s eyes to what he has to do. Charlie goes and confronts Gimpy without actually telling him he knows he is stealing. Charlie is differing from the good and bad behaviors of Gimpy and the right and wrong of what he did.
In conclusion, the heart transplant saved many lifes a year just like the surgery saved Charlie from never knowing what it was like to be smart. From the start to the end of the book Charlies’s EQ, MQ, and IQ changed miraculously in all kinds of ways. This made Charlie a better person in the end for he was happy with life after he became dumb again. However for Miss. Kinnian her emotional quotation was a little off.