Flowers for Algernon

Essay by HawthornesPupilA+, March 2004

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Flowers For Algernon

In the novel "Flowers For Algernon" (written by Daniel Keyes), there are several different issues discussed in relation to the way developmentally handicapped individuals are seen through the eyes of more intellectual people. From the way handicapped people are treated, to the idea of surgery being preformed to help them become more intelligent, the novel touches on many significant subjects. But more importantly, the novel shows readers what life is like from the perspective of a mentally handicapped person.

One of the most important issues in this story is the brain surgery that the main character underwent to become more intelligent. Charlie was given the opportunity to gain a knowledge that would have otherwise been unknown to him, and he would have spent the rest of his life as a handicapped man, never knowing what he could have accomplished. The experimental operation was an improvement on Charlie's life briefly, but in the end, Charlie ended up alienating himself from his friends because of the massive amount of intelligence he had acquired.

He was not longer distanced from people mentally, but psychologically instead. The operation caused changes in Charlie, and once he regressed to his former state, he seemed to be more negative about things. In addition, we are left assuming at the end of the book (since Charlie is being sent to the Warren Home) that Charlie's mental state keeps regressing. So even though the surgery made him intelligent temporarily, and showed him things that he could have never seen with the original intelligence he had, I believe it was worse to teach and show him things that he wouldn't be able to see again.

Another issue in this novel was the way the author (Keyes) portrayed Charlie's friends, Frank, Joe, and Gimpy, and...