Daniel Keyes Short Story “Flowers for Algernon”

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There are a lot of people in the Daniel Keyes short story “Flowers for Algernon.” Some are nice. Some are not. Charlie Gordon is the main character in the “Flowers for Algernon” story. He is the protagonist as well as the narrator. He is a 37 year-old guy who has an IQ of 68, meaning that he has serious limitations in areas such as learning and reasoning, and severe limitations as well in adaptive areas such as communication and self-help skills . He can not read and write correctly, after the operation he becomes super-genius, and he wants to leave New York for good and then is “dumb” again. Or in other words, his smartness decreases. Those are his three main stages in the story. Charlie works at a paper factory in New York. He can not read and write correctly because of his 68 IQ, which does not seem to bother him. “Dr. Strauss says I shud rite down what I think and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.” (Keyes 190). Because of this, he does poorly on the Rorschach and the Thematic Apperception Test. But, he shows motivation towards Miss Kinnian, who is the teacher at the school he attends. Charlie had his operation, then all of a sudden, a miracle occurred He became really smart with an IQ over 200! His intelligence started to gradually improve and he could remember more about his childhood and his thinking became clearer. Also, he has the nerve to ask Miss Kinnian for dinner. His friendship with Miss Kinnian starts to blossom into a more romantic one, while having feelings for her. “When I become intelligent like Dr. Strauss says, with three times my IQ of 68, then maybe I’ll be like everyone else and people will like me and be friendly.” (Keyes 201).

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Soon, however, he realizes that he is often being laughed at, rather than being laughed with at his work. His intelligence grows, he notices that everyone around looks down at him, which makes him less happy. But sadly, his intelligence is temporary. Miss Kinnian told him beforehand, but Charlie thinks that “temporary” meant “pain.” For example, Charlie beat Algernon in the maze one day and he does not even know until Burt, the tester tells him. Algernon dies, and Charlie thinks this will happen to him, as well. Charlie and Algernon are alike because if something happens in Algernon’s lifetime, then that will also occur in Charlie’s life. He ironically wants to leave New York for good. “I did not see my mother or father or my little sister Norma for a long long long time. Maybe their dad to.” (Shmoop Editorial Team) His father is drunk most of the time and argues with his mother about money. He will lose so much intelligence, he will not be able to take care of himself. Though Charlie Gordon does not physically die in the story, I can infer that he might, because he follows the fate of Algernon fairly close up to this point. Charlie Gordon shows three character developments throughout the story. He is chosen by a team of scientists to endure an experiment in order to boost his intelligence. His three stages are that he can not read and write properly, he then turns into a super-genius, and his intelligence decreases. His last wish is for someone to put flowers on Algernon’s grave…

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Daniel Keyes Short Story "Flowers for Algernon". (2021, Mar 10). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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