In "Flowers for Algernon," who is Algernon and why is he important?

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Algernon is a white lab mouse who was given the same operation that Charley will later receive. Because the operation so massively increased Algernon's intelligence, the scientists, Dr. Nemur and Dr. Strauss, believe they will have similar results with Charley.

Charley feels a strong connection to Algernon because the two...

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Algernon is a white lab mouse who was given the same operation that Charley will later receive. Because the operation so massively increased Algernon's intelligence, the scientists, Dr. Nemur and Dr. Strauss, believe they will have similar results with Charley.

Charley feels a strong connection to Algernon because the two are required to run daily maze races to test their intelligence against one another. Charley is concerned early on when he learns that to get access to his food, Algernon must solve a problem every day. Charley writes in his journal:

I dont think its right to make you pass a test to eat. How woud Dr Nemur like it to have to pass a test every time he wants to eat. I think III be frends with Algernon.

As Charley becomes highly intelligent, he realizes he was used like Algernon, as a sort of lab mouse. He realizes that the fate of the two of them is linked. When Algernon becomes aggressive, loses his intelligence, and dies, Charley realizes the same fate awaits him. When he cries at Algernon's death, he cries for himself, because he understands that both of them were used callously to forward someone else's agenda.

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Algernon is the laboratory mouse whom Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur use to test their experiments of enhanced intelligence. When Algernon begins showing remarkable signs of improvement by running the mazes they construct in record time, the physicians believe that their hypothesis has been proven: that is, it is possible to improve intelligence through scientific, medical intervention.

Strauss and Nemur soothe any ethical qualms they may have about their experimentation by selecting a human being of marginal intelligence: Charley. Because Charley has an extremely low I.Q., the doctors theorize that anything that they do can only help, not hurt, their subject.

Initially pleased by both Charley and Algernon's monumental success, the doctors hopes begin to falter when Algernon suddenly and precipitously begins a steady decline in his faculties. The doctors correctly surmise that Charley, too, will begin to lose his short-term gains in intellectual ability. Algernon, then, is a harbinger of what is to come for Charley.

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