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Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes
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What does Charlie's failure to understand the tests reveal about his personality and abilities in "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes?  

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Charlie's failure to understand the tests he is given in "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes reveals a couple of things about his abilities and his personality. First of all, it shows that his IQ is pretty low because he has a difficult time grasping simple concepts. Even...

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Charlie's failure to understand the tests he is given in "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes reveals a couple of things about his abilities and his personality. First of all, it shows that his IQ is pretty low because he has a difficult time grasping simple concepts. Even after the inkblot test (Rorschach) is explained to him, he still does not understand. 

"He said pepul see things in the ink. I said show me where. He said think. I told him I think a inkblot but that wasnt rite eather. He said what does it remind you--pretend somthing. I closd my eyes for a long time to pretend. I told him I pretned a fowntan pen with ink leeking all over a table cloth" (Keyes 2).

Charlie's low intelligence prohibits him from understanding what is being asked of him in identifying pictures within the inkblots. 

The second set of tests Charlie is given asks him to make up stories about the pictures he sees. This time, we learn more about Charlie's personality because he tells the test proctor he cannot make up stories. When asked why, he says that making up stories is the same thing as lying. Charlie says he always gets caught when he tells a lie, so he won't do it. 

"I told her how can you tell storys about pepul you never met. I said why shud I make up lies. I never tell lies any more becaus I always get caut" (Keyes 3).

Charlie is honest and naive. When he takes the final test, finding his way through a paper maze while Algernon, the mouse, runs the same physical maze, Charlie is disappointed in himself when Algernon wins ten times in a row. This shows us that there must also be at least a little competitiveness in Charlie. 

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