Flowers For Algernon takes place in New York, and is about a 32 year old man named Charlie Gordon. He is mentally retarded and was chosen to take part in a experiment to boost his “intelligence at Beekman College. He also is directed to write progress reports which the book is based upon.
There are many themes of this book, the first I will be talking about is how someone’s present and past can effect them. As Charlie gets more “intelligent” throughout the book, we see that he starts remembering memories from his past. Charlie talks about when he was younger his mom Rose Gordon, had punished him for “not being normal.” This had tormented Charlie brought shame upon himself. When we see Charlie try to make love with Alice or Fay there was always the “Old Charlie” watching over him, this was because of the way his mom treated him when he was a child. Charlie goes and sees Rose to show her how intelligent he had become, but we see Rose try to attack Charlie and leaves him crying. This shows how no matter how intelligent or smart someone can become, there will always be the past and the present interfere with one another.
Another theme in this book is how the mentally ill people of this world are mistreated. As Charlie becomes more intelligent he realizes how the people who he had thought were laughing with him, were laughing at him. Charlie’s life (before the experiment) he had been treated as less of a human being, other’s had thought of themselves higher than Charlie because of his retardation. Although the people at the bakery were always looking out for him and understood what he was dealing with. Charlie believes that everyone should be treated equally no matter of their disease or illness. This was shown when at the diner Charlie had seen people making fun of a retarded busboy. He stood up for the boy and asked the people to understand the boy’s health. Charlie sees how mentally retarded people are mistreated from “normal” people firsthand. This helps the readers understand that everyone should be treated equally and fairly no matter of their illness, disease of lack of intelligence.
The last theme I want to talk about is how someone’s intelligence and feelings can fight one another. At the beginning of the book Charlie is caring, loving and understanding. As his intelligence increases we see that Charlie becomes disagreeable, less understanding and drifts from human contact. Throughout the book he finds that him becoming smarter has made him drift away from human contact and most importantly forget his true love for Alice.
In the book we read many good and bad things happen, these are some of them. One good part of this book is definately when the experiment works and Charlie’s intelligence increases. This to me shows how with a lot of faith (and of course brains) how someone or something can change. As the world grows more advanced who knows maybe we’ll have a 100% cure for cancer or a mental illness. We see how much happier Charlie had become to be a “normal” human, but is there really a definition of normal? That’s the real question. In my opinion no, there is not a perfect definition of normal everyone is created special and different which is good.
But of course there were also bad memories in this book. One bad part of this story was when Charlie’s intelligence had began to deteriorate, like Algernon. He had slowly forgotten how to talk to people and his relationships with the people he had met (Alice). Charlie had also sent Alice away as he had realized he was returning to his old self. This was sad to see as we watched a mentally retarded Charlie turn into a genius, then his intelligence deteriorate. At the end of the book he had checked himself into a home for the retarded adults.
Reading Flowers For Algernon had made me thought of how I treat people sometimes. I’m not going to lie sometimes I treat people wrongly. But reading this book and seeing as how people had treated a retarded Charlie made me realize that I need to treat people the way I want to be treated. No matter of their disability, nationality or gender. I need to treat everyone equally and how I want people to treat myself.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone. As it will hopefully help them understand to treat people fairly, and as they want to be treated, that everyone is equal. This book had to have been my second favorite reading this year, coming behind To Kill A MockingBird.