Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes

Rating: 4.5 Stars ★★★★☆

Dr Strauss says I should rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.

Plot

Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone’s jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental transformation preceded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary.

Review

God, this book was heartbreaking. It’s one of these books where you completely understand why they are classics: because they touch you in a way not every book can.

Flowers for Algernon is written in a diary-style series of progress reports by our protagonist, Charlie Gordon. Charlie has a low IQ and his ambition in life is to become smarter. He regularly goes to adult classes and has managed to learn how to read and write.

He’s also an incredibly sweet guy who thinks the best of everyone he meets. Yet people use and abuse him all the time. It was truly agonizing to read about how people treated him. People he believes are his friends.

I dont remember how the party was over but they asked me to go around the corner to see if it was raining and when I came back there was no one their. Maybe they went to find me. I looked for them all over till it was late. But I got lost and I felt bad at myself for getting lost because I bet Algernon could go up and down those streets a hundred times and not get lost like I did.

When Charlie undergoes an experimental intelligence-increasing operation, he gets smart really fast. It’s reflected in his progress reports, which go from a simple, error-strewn language to a very academic tone.

Intelligence, however, does not help Charlie the way he thought. Instead of being able to understand people and make friends easier, he is even lonelier than he was before. For the first time, he understands it when people abuse him and it’s heartbreaking.

Soon, he is more intelligent than anyone around him, which isolates him just as much as his lower intelligence did before.

It may sound like ingratitude, but that is one of the things that I resent here – the attitude that I am a guinea pig. Nemur’s constant references to having made me what I am, or that someday there will be others like me who will become real human beings.

How can I make him understand that he did not create me?

He makes the same mistake as the others when they look at a feeble-minded person and laugh because they don’t understand there are human feelings involved. He doesn’t realize that I was a person before I came here.

And then, the short and brutal way down starts again. The results of the operation are not permanent. Charlie is able to observe the effects it has on Algernon, the mouse that underwent the same operation as him. He knows he will go the same way: lose everything he has learned.

It’s terrible how he tries to cling to something, anything really and how it just all slips away.

 

Conclusion

Utterly heartbreaking.

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