Charlie Gordon was a man who, despite having a horrid life, always made the best of things. Charlie was a retardate at birth and was never really accepted by his family. His father, Matt, was a money thirsty man who was the nicest member of the family to Charlie. He would make him toys and try to calm his mother and sister down when they were mad at him. He did not want to hide him from society. He only wanted Charlie to live out the life of a retardate.
His sister, Norma, was very mean and rude to him. She was very snotty and always got all of the attention. All Charlie wanted to do most of the time was play a board game with her, but she would never do so. She would just call him names and hit him. One time, Norma got a puppy for getting good grades on a test.
Whenever Matt brought it home, Charlie said that he wanted a puppy too, and Matt decided that they would have to share it. Norma hated this idea because she thought that he would kill it. Matt told her that it was a shared puppy, or no puppy. So, he took that dog away and Norma vowed to never be nice to him again.
His mother, Rose, was the worst of all. She was always convinced that he was a normal person and that there was nothing wrong with him. His mother took him to many doctors and tried many things to treat his disability, but nothing worked. She would whip him when he did anything wrong and would rarely let him be seen in public or when the family had company. One time in his early life, he mistakenly picked up his sister's brassiere out of the laundry bin in the bathroom, and when his mother came in and saw him, she got furious. She said that he should not be thinking about his sister in that way. That night, Charlie laid awake in his bed, listening to his parents argue. At one point his mother got so furious that she told Matt to take Charlie away now or she would kill him with a knife. So, knowing that this was the only way, Matt took Charlie to the Warren State Home.
Charlie had many other horrid childhood experiences. In one instance, he delivered a bracelet to a girl that he liked. Her brothers did not like this, so they took him outside and beat him up. Another of his experiences was that he could not go to the bathroom alone, yet his mother would never take him to the bathroom. He was constantly wetting his pants.
Charlie was in the Warren State Home for only a little while until his Uncle Herman came and took him away to his own home. His uncle got Charlie a job and an apartment of his own. He worked at Donner's bakery, where he delivered packages and helped to clean. He got himself enrolled in a school for the retarded, where he learned to read and write. After around seventeen years of working and learning at his school, he had the chance of a lifetime. He was enrolled in a scientific study that would supposedly make him into a genius.
Dr. Straus and Prof. Nemur were the two main scientists behind the research. The only thing that Charlie was forced to do for the project, was to write Progress Reports about what happened to him during the day for the scientists to look over. After going through the early stages, he was finally ready to get the operation done on his brain that would make him smart. He had the operation preformed, and when it was through he slowly but surely got smarter. He did many tests throughout the months, one involving him racing a mouse through a maze. The mouse that he always raced was named Algernon. This mouse was special, because he had the exact same disability that Charlie had, only Algernon had the operation performed a few weeks before Charlie. Algernon won many of the races, until Charlie finally got smart enough to be able to beat Algernon.
Charlie began reading many books, and remembering things that he had never remembered before about his life. But as he got smart, he realized that the people whom he had thought were his friends from Donner's bakery, were really laughing at him instead of with him. He lost all of his friends except for his teacher at the school for the retarded, named Miss Alice Kinnian. She was the one who had enrolled him into the research. She had been with him every step, and was his only true friend.
Eventually Charlie was fired from his job because people thought that it was weird for him to get smart. He was still getting money, though, from his work at the research center. Charlie kept getting smarter and smarter as time went on. He and Alice had developed a small relationship and had gone to see a few concerts at the park, or out to dinner.
The time came when he had to fly to a convention in Chicago that would congratulate Dr. Straus and Prof. Nemur for their work. Charlie had gotten so smart by now, that he was smarter then the scientists themselves. He realized during the scientists' talks with other intelligent people that they had made a mistake in one of their formulas. He and Algernon would need more time to be able to see for sure if they would stay smart.
During Prof. Nemur's speech, Charlie opened Algernon's cage and released him into the hotel in which the convention was held. The scientists and everyone else at the convention went searching through the hotel for the missing mouse. Charlie got to the mouse first and escaped out of the hotel with him. He flew home and decided that it would be best to stay in a new apartment.
Charlie tried to keep a low profile for the first few days that he was in the apartment. Soon, Charlie met his neighbor, Fay. She was a painter who liked to drink a lot. Fay and Charlie developed a good friendship, which eventually turned into a relationship. They went dancing, exchanged keys, shared their favorite music, and spent long evenings together.
He was looking through the paper one day and he saw an article that interested him. It was titled "Sister unaware of Moron-Genius' whereabouts"ÃÂ. It said that his sister, Norma, and the professors were unaware of where he was. It also gave him the whereabouts of his family. His mother and father had divorced, and his father owned a barbershop nearby to where he lived.
Eventually, he felt up to calling Alice. She had been very worried about him along with Dr. Straus and Prof. Nemur. After a few days of thinking, Charlie decided that he best go back to the research center and help, even if he was still staying in his new home.
He started back into his usual routine at the research center. He would go there during most of the day, and go out with either Fay or Alice at night. Fay and Alice where still unaware of one another.
Charlie went to see his father in a barbershop, not knowing what his reaction would be. When he first went in, he wanted to see if his father would notice him. Nothing happened. The man who was his father gave him a haircut and a shave and let him leave. He did not notice at all that he was his son.
After a while of being back at the research center, Charlie decided that he wanted to do some of his own research. He wrote a letter to the Welberg Foundation, the foundation that funded the whole project, which was also copied to the research center. It stated that he would like to do some of his own research on an effect of the surgery. It was entitled "The Algernon-Gordon Effect"ÃÂ. This research then took up most of his free time.
One night, when he decided to take a break from his research, he invited Alice over. Fay, not knowing that Charlie had company, came in through the fire escape that connected the two apartments. This was the first time that the two women had met. They had heard of each other, but had never physically seen each other. Charlie introduced them to each other and, to his surprise, they hit it off pretty well. The stayed up and joked together all night.
After a few days, Algernon died. Charlie took him out and buried him in a yard on the apartment grounds. He placed flowers on the grave, and vowed to do the same for every month after that.
Charlie decided that he had to go and see his mother and sister. He left and went to the address that he found on the newspaper article that he had kept. After confrontation with his mentally unstable mother, he got her to calm down and gave her his research paper, which delighted her. While he was at the home, Norma came home and threw her arms joyously around her brother. They talked a while and she told him how she needed help taking care of their mother and he told her that he would send them money for as long as he was able, but he could not stay and help to take care of her.
He went home and tried to keep reading and remembering, but he could tell that he was slowly becoming dumber. He would wake up some days and wonder who and where he was. At this point, Alice was living with him.
One day, though, Charlie got frustrated and yelled at Alice and told her to leave, which she did. From then on, he lived by himself in front of the television, not letting anyone except for his landlady in. He could tell that Alice was paying her to take care of him. He knew that he was getting worse and worse.
One day he forgot what he was supposed to do, and went back to Miss Kinnian's classroom to learn more, which made her cry. She couldn't stand seeing him like this.
He wrote in his last Progress Report to the research center, "That is why I am going away for good to the Warren State Home. I don't want to do nothing like that again to Miss Kinnian"ÃÂ He also stated, "If you ever read this Miss Kinnian, don't be sorry for me. I am glad that I got a second chance in life like you said."ÃÂ And finally he says, "I bet that I am the first dumb person in the world who found out something important for science. I did something, but I don't remember what. So, I guess it's like I did it for all of the dumb people like me in Warren and all over the world. Goodbye Miss Kinnian, Dr. Straus, and everyone else.
P.S. Please, if you get a chance, put some flowers on Algernon's grave in the backyard."ÃÂ No one really knows where Charlie Gordon went. One can speculate that he went to the Warren State Home. But then we wonder, how would he know where it was? How would he get there? And would he ever really get there?