Essay on Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Decent Essays
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…show more content…
The point of Flowers for Algernon is not the technology that lets Charlie becomes intelligent but rather the way people respond around him prior to and following the operation. In Flowers for Algernon, the story bound idea of artificially altering intelligence allows Keyes to present the portrayal of society's mistreatment of the mentally disabled. As Charlie's intelligence grows, successfully transforming from a mentally retarded person to a genius, he begins to recognize that people have always based their attitudes toward him on feelings of superiority. Primarily, others have treated Charlie not only as an intellectual inferior but also as less than a human being as they are. Daniel Keyes intends his readers to realize that while some treats Charlie with outright cruelty, others have tried to be kind but eventually have been condescending in their own charity. From the quote "Sometimes somebody will say hey lookit Frank, or Joe or Gimpy. He really pulled a Charlie Gordon that time. I don't know why they say it but they always laff and I laff too." (pg.23), it shows a sharp reprimand of how the mentally deficient are treated. While the author condemns the mistreatment of the mentally disabled, he also shows the understanding of why the mistreatment happens through this citation from the Flowers for Algernon "I never knew
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