Flowers for Algernon // Daniel Keyes.


Struggling to find adequate words to describe the vast array of emotions and intellectual stimulations Keyes provides in his masterful Flowers for Algernon. Unafraid to trek the gray matters of the (hypothetical) psychological perspective and (realistic) societal perceptions of mental retardation, Keyes pits intelligence and relations against each other. Charlie Gordon, brutally tormented by his tormented mother, has an undying drive to get smarter. Ironically, however, achieving brilliance has casted larger and more ominous shadows–isolation due to intimidation and emotional immaturity and instability of the old Charlie Gordon–that hinder and eventually reverts him back. What is the personal and societal value of intelligence? Amiability? A human being that might lack one or both? The pre-operation Charlie Gordon sought intelligence as a cure, the post-operation Charlie Gordon desperately clung to intelligence as an identity, but pre-deterioration Charlie Gordon realized his fate and surrendered to restore the body to its rightful owner: the pre-operation Charlie Gordon. He is, after all, a human being.

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