Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon book cover
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Compare the experiences of Charlie and Algernon in Flowers for Algernon.

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In both Charlie and Algernon the same process has been carried out in which intelligence is artificially increased, though the result is not permanent. Charlie experiences life as a brilliant man, then has to suffer a reversal of the change in which his intelligence level begins to decrease, and he once again becomes mentally disabled and awaits his probable death, just as has happened to Algernon.

Your question brings up the issue of what animals are capable of experiencing both intellectually and emotionally. The poignancy of Charlie's story lies in his awareness of what is happening to him...

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mkcapen1 | Student

In the book Flowers for Algernon the experiences for Charlie and Algernon were similar and different.  Algernon had always been smart.  He was able to demonstrate his intelligence by quickly moving through the maze.  Charlie had a brain that mentally challenged with an IQ of 68.  When tested against Algernon, he could not respond as well. 

The first thing that they both have in common is that they are needed by the scientists for the experiment.  In this sense Charlie is no less of a lab rat than Algernon.  He does not really have value to the scientists other than for the results of their experiment.  The scientists want to use the results for publication and to promote their careers.  Charlie and Algernon both experience test after test.

As Algernon's mental status begins to deteriorate, Charile begins to under stand through his own research that he too will be returning to his prior state of inferior intelligence.  He is upset but he relates to Algernon who also had to struggle with diminishing abilities until he dies.

 

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