At the end of "Flowers for Algernon," does Charlie feel better or worse about himself?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of the story Charlie feels better, and although he reverts back to his initial state, he knows that he made an important contribution to science. He is also glad that he got to experience different events that were out of reach in his initial condition. Charlie gets an opportunity to read, write, and understand the information he comes across. His intelligence surpasses the average levels, and he is able to help the scientists understand their own work.

Anyway I bet Im the first dumb person in the world who ever found out somthing importent for sience. I remember I did somthing but I dont remember what. So I gess its like I did it for all the dumb pepullike me.

Although at the end his memory is hazy, Charlie knows he did something outstanding.  Charlie is elated, but he struggles with nostalgia, which eventually forces him to leave New York because he does not want to be around the people he was with when he was a genius. He is afraid that they will feel sorry for him. However, he wants to continue reading in hopes of regaining his intelligence.

Thats why Im going away from New York for good. I dont want to do nothing like that agen. I dont want Miss Kinnian to feel sorry for me. Evry body feels sorry at the factery and I dont want that eather so Im going someplace where nobody knows that Charlie Gordon was once a genus and now he cant even reed a book or rite good.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Charlie feels even better about himself than he did before the surgery.  Not because he had intelligence, but because he is able to understand others.  He has learned forgiveness, and he has learned that all people face troubles.  The theme here is that intelligence is not vital to a happy life.  Love and personal connections with others are what drive people and make them happy.  Here are Charlie's own words on the subject:

"intelligence and education isn't worth a damn ... all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love."

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even though, at the end of the story, Charlie loses his new found intelligence, he retains a healthy sense of self-worth.

"Even after Charlie returns to his previous subnormal level of intelligence, he has learned to be understanding of the failings of others because they are "not so smart like you once thot they were." Although the experiment has failed, Charlie Gordon has not."

He feels better about himself at the ens but before the end is when he feels worse.

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Flowers for Algernon

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