Explain the statement, "The more intelligent you become the more problems you'll have, Charlie." Do you think this is true for individuals? Why?

Expert Answers
ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Flowers for Algernon," Charlie Gordon is a man with an IQ of 68.  He is considered mentally retarded and is taking part in an experimental surgery to gain intelligence.  The statement "The more intelligent you become the more problems you'll have, Charlie," means that when Charlie had little intelligence he did not understand everything that was going on around him.  When people made fun of him he didn't realize that was what they were doing.  He didn't understand romantic love, or the responsibilities people with normal intelligence deal with day to day.  Once Charlie became more intelligent things became harder for him.  He felt the pain and humiliation of people's comments about him.  He fell in love and had to deal with the complications that came with that love.  He had to deal with the expectations of others.  None of those things had bothered him before because he was not smart.  He also had to accept the pain of losing what he had learned.  I think it would have been easier to stay the way Charlie was rather than gain so much and then lose it all.

I do believe that the more gifts people gain or are born with the more responsibilities they have to use those gifts in a responsible manner.  If we don't know what is going on around us we can't be expected to do anything about it, but once we learn what is right and wrong, what is required of us as individuals living in a community our lives become more difficulty.

marilynn07 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The more intelligent you become the more problems you have simply because you have more knowledge and brain power to realize that there are problems. Charlie had an IQ of 68 at the beginning of the novel Flowers for Algernon and had a sharp increase in intelligence in the middle of the book. As he grew more intelligent, the researchers gave him more and more difficult tasks to solve.  He also was able to think about the "human condition" in more depth.  Charlie had never experienced the pain of ridicule or the pangs of being in love until he had become intelligent. He had not experienced the feeling of failure to live up to others' expectations simply because no one had ever expected very much of him until he became smart.

Charlie had a very simple life being a mentally retarded adult. He did not have to "think" about very much other than doing his job and being on time.

Once he had more intelligence and brain power, it was as though a bee hive of thoughts were buzzing through his brain. It was real work just to focus on one thing at a time.

afi80fl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't know if it's true that the more intelligent you become, the more problems you'll have, but I definitely think it's true that the more intelligent you are, the more you'll be aware of problems.  A lot of bad things happen in the world, and when you have a lot of intelligence, you are more apt to see things around you for what they are.  You shed some of the innocence and naivity, clothing yourself with knowledge, often bitter and hurtful, instead. 

Intelligence is a beautiful thing, but sometimes, as the person telling this statement to Charly understands, it opens your eyes to more of the world's problems and dark sides. 

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This can be true for individuals, yes. I think it is a question of understanding that there really are no simple answers to the biggest questions. The most intelligent people I know also understand that there are many sides to complicated questions; this is apparent in politicians. I was happily surprised that Obama managed to get elected--in many ways, he is too intelligent to satisfy the present day need for simple answers. He gives consideration to various sides of issues, which some in the media like to portray as indecisiveness. It seems that the less intelligent people I see are the ones who are positive they are right.

Read the study guide:
Flowers for Algernon

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question