Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon book cover
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Why is Algernon so important in "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes?

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In "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, Algernon is very important because Charlie follows in his footsteps. The intelligence experiments Dr. Nemur and Dr. Strauss are performing on Charlie were first used on Algernon. In scientific research, mice are often used to determine side-effects, benefits, and other information so that scientists have some idea about how the same research might work on humans (though it doesn't always work). This idea is used in the story.

Algernon had the same operation that Charlie had. The scientists have observed Algernon becoming more and more intelligent over time. By the time Charlie is reaching his peak, Algernon is beginning to regress, and now that Charlie is so highly intelligent, he notices this. He watches Algernon become depressed and refuse to run the mazes. He watches Algernon as he loses interest in everything, and finally Charlie watches as Algernon dies. Charlie knows that his fate is tied up with Algernon's, so he begins his own research, hoping to find an answer and a cure. Sadly, that doesn't happen, and Charlie's own regression soon begins.

When Algernon dies, Charlie buries him and puts flowers on his grave--thus the name of the story. This also symbolizes the connection between Algernon and Charlie.

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