Flowers For Algernon

The enduring classic Flowers for Algernon was penned by Daniel Keyes. It is a story about a man and a mouse who have their IQs increased on a temporary basis artificially and tragically. In 1959, it was first released as a short story. Later in 1966 it was written in novel form and over time has sold millions of copies.

Generation after generation of English students have been introduced to the narrator of the book, Charlie Gordon. Mr. Keys wrote journal entries by Gordon that were elegant but stunted to reveal the transformation of the character. They can identify with him and the mouse and find a fond connection with them. This book is a standard read in many colleges and schools for a variety of English students to gain a better understanding of the mind and what happens when one feels truly alone. It is a tragedy that gets to a lot of people.

In 1968, the book was brought to life in film by director Ralph Nelson. Charlie came to life by the star Cliff Robertson. His performance won him an Academy Award. There were also musicals and televisions shows based on the novel. This was the defining work of Daniel Keyes even though he offered exploration of the human mind in other volumes.

As the story begins, Charlie works in a bakery at age 32. He is disabled intellectually, but he is a candidate for an experimental surgery that will grow his intelligence. His doctor, Dr. Strauss, tells him to document everything he remembers and what happens to him by writing it all down. He wants more than anything to be considered smart.

Previously, the surgery was conducted on a mouse by the name of Algernon that managed to use dazzling speed to navigate through mazes. After his surgery, Charlie uncovers a similar success, but he does not appear to find happiness.

Over time, his intelligence seemed to create a dived between the people he cared about and he lost his job at the bakery. He ends up feeling more lost and alone than he ever did before. He began to question what would have happened to Algernon if he was sent back to live with the other regular mice. He wonders if he would have underwent the same fate. Over time he begins to realize that as Algernon’s intelligence begins to fade, his will ultimately diminish as well.

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