Flowers for Algernon Character Analysis

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In the story Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes’, Algernon is a mouse and despite being in the title, he is not the protagonist. He is, though, the player of emotions. This is because Algernon and Charlie Gordon (the protagonist) had the same operation. This means anything that happens to Algernon can happen to Charlie. Algernon has three main character changes from the beginning. In the beginning, Algernon is a super smart mouse because of an operation. Then, as time goes by, he becomes uncooperative. Finally, he dies from his brain’s rapid deterioration. Algernon changes from smart, to uncooperative, to passing away from his brain failing.

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To begin, Algernon starts out smart. On March 23, Charlie writes Dr. Strauss says that Algernon had the operation too. He says “… it took a long time with Algernon before he got 3 times smarter then he was before. Thats why Algernon beats me all the time because he had that operashun too …Maybe some day Ill beat Algernon. Boy that would be something. So far Algernon looks like he mite be smart perminent.” (Keyes 196). This is after Algernon beats Charlie again in a maze they use to test Charlie. Algernon has had the operation that Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur have came up with. This operation is to triple intelligence. It is never revealed when Algernon had the operation but it is revealed that he had reached 3 times the intelligence. This makes him smarter than Charlie Gordon with a 68 IQ. Finally, on April 6th Charlie beats Algernon for the 1st time. On that day Charlie also writes that Burt the tester says that Algernon has to pass a test to get his food. Every time the test changes and Algernon has to learn new things. This also shows how smart Algernon is because it is like a lock that he has to solve. It is a test to make Algernon work for his food. An average mouse would not be able to solve a changing lock every day. Algernon being smart does not end up being permanent though.

Subsequently, Algernon becomes uncooperative. This is worrying in this book because Charlie may lose his intelligence too. An example in progress report 12 is,”Algernon bit me. I visited the lab to see him as I do occasionally, and when I took him out of his cage, he snapped at my hand. I put him back and watched him for a while. He was unusually disturbed and vicious. … is less cooperative; he refuses to run the maze any more; general motivation decreased. …now refuses to work the shifting lock problem.” (Keyes 208-209). Charlie has held Algernon before so it is strange that Algernon just now started biting. Also, the fact that Algernon won’t run mazes anymore is strange because Algernon had motivation in cheese. Algernon would now not work for the cheese. Also, he now refused to do the lock problem for food meaning he didn’t really care if he died from hunger or not. As Algernon loses his intelligents his cerebral cortex is messed up. “The cerebral cortex of the brain, which plays a key role in memory, thought, language and consciousness” (Charles). Algernon may have lost his memory, thought, and language before he died. Algernon losing his memory may have been shown by him biting Charlie Gordon from not remembering. This may not be the case but it has a possibility. He also may have lost his thought process making him uncooperative. This might have been the cause of him stop trying on the shifting lock problem to get his food because he might have just ceased to try to think and solve the problems. Algernon soon turns worse than just uncooperative though.

Finally, Algernon dies from his brain deteriorating. His cerebral convolutions smoothed, his brain decreased in weight, and his brain fissures broadening and deepening. Cerebral convolutions are grooves in our brain. “The cerebral cortex of the human brain is highly convoluted, meaning it has many folds and creases. These convolutions allow a large surface area of brain to fit inside our skulls. Because of this brain shape, our brains can have billions of neurons and we can still have relatively small heads” (Phillips). This means that Algernon’s brain had a low surface area. The neurons in Algernon’s brain most likely died because his brain had smoothed over the convolutions and if he still had the same amount of neurons it would not fit in his head. The reason why the brain is convoluted is to get a high surface area. Algernon died on June 8th. He first started acting up on May 25 meaning that it only took 14 days for Algernon to die after his brain failed. How Algernon’s brain had lost its “advantage” is shown by “there is a clear advantage to such cortical folding. Having a thinner, folded cortex means information transfer from one point in the brain to another covers less distance and can happen far more rapidly” (Sabrina). Algernon’s brain had failed to fold. The fail to fold made it so that information had to move farther. The information also moved slower now that his brain had smoothed. Algernon’s brain deteriorating finally kills him.

Algernon starts as smart, then to uncooperative, then to dead. Algernon begins as smart from an intelligence raising operation. Then he becomes difficult and stubborn as time goes on. Finally, he dies from brain complications. These are his 3 main stages. Algernon is the puller of strings in Daniel Keyes Flowers for Algernon. He does this by making it sure that it is known that the protagonist, Charlie Gordon, will die. Algernon played emotions to the end. Algernon changed character in 3 different ways.

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Flowers for Algernon Character Analysis. (2021, Mar 10). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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