Response essay to the short story: Flowers for Algernon, about a mentally retarded 37-year-old.

Essay by mysticasendA+, March 2003

download word file, 2 pages 3.2 1 reviews

Downloaded 85 times

Flowers for Algernon has several conflicts, which can be classified into 3 categories; protagonist versus nature, protagonist versus self, and protagonist versus society.

Protagonist versus nature is Charlie trying to increase his natural IQ of 68 and suppress the effects which would occur naturally as seen in Algernon. The mental regression which could be seen in Algernon, on which the operation was performed earlier, is what Charlie is trying to battle by "[practising] very hard", though his mental regression is inevitable.

Protagonist versus self can be seen in Charlie's battle to forget his past, the way he laughed at himself, his mental disability. Charlie knows that even when his intelligence is raised tremendously through surgical means, he cannot fit in because his intelligence is not natural. Therefore, he tries to hide his past. However, his eyes are opened through the retarded dishwasher who he laughs at but finally realises, through that experience, that he had been laughing at himself.

Protagonist versus society would include the mentally retarded as a whole, versus society, Charlie versus his colleagues and boss, and Charlie versus Drs. Strauss and Nemur. Discrimination against the mentally retarded is rampant in our society. Charlie is only given $25 for an idea which would save his boss thousands of dollars yearly, whereas a professional who came up with the same idea would be given at least $1000.

Not only are the mentally retarded discrimated against, their quest for acceptance is never-ending, especially in Charlie's case. Charlie, when his IQ is still low, he is seen as someone to be taken advantage of, to be laughed at, yet when he tries to blend in by surgically enhancing his intelligence, he is completely shunned. When he tries to celebrate with Frank and Joe, who represent the majority of the population, they...