In what ways is the author of "Flowers for Algernon" criticizing areas of academic life, such as research and pyschology?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First lets look at the two characters that represent "academic life", Nemur and Strauss.  Nemur is a pyschologist who is supposed to understand the struggle of all humans, particularly Charlie, and to be sympathetic and compassionate.  Instead, he is a broken man, at war with his own wife, who is more concerned with his own pride in having a successful experiment than in helping Charlie.  As a result, he rushes through the procedures and clashes with Charlie.

Strauss is a much more compassionate man, but he is also working against his creed as a doctor.  As a neurosurgeon, Strauss' job is to ensure that the brain is healthy.  Charlie's brain was healthy, it was just different from the brain of the average person.  And yet, Strauss is will to go along with the experiment because he cares more about the "perfect" human, not the healthy human.

Keyes is criticizing the tendency of science and academia to turn into a personal crusade for recognition and turn away from humanitarian goals.  Charlie, who is personally researching and documenting his experience in his diary, is the only scientist who is lacking in bias and ambition.  Yes, he wants himself to "be better", but his documentation is not biased by this.  He portrays what he experiences, and when he realizes that the whole experiment has been a mistake, he admits that.