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Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

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How do Charlie's feelings toward Algernon change after the operation?

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Charlie likes Algernon from the start but at first feels bad when the mouse beats him at the maze games they are both asked to play. He wonders why the mouse is so smart and speculates it might be because he is a white mouse. He begins to feel a bond with the mouse when he finds out that they both have motivation.

After the operation, Charlie continues to bond and identify with Algernon because they both have been subjected to the same surgery to improve their intellects. The identification becomes bitter as Charlie grows to understand they were both used to advance Dr. Nemur's agenda. Dr. Nemur, aging, and wanting a last success, jumped too rapidly into the brain operation, which Charlie realizes will leave both he and Algernon worse off than before as their intellects will rapidly decline. He recognizes he has been used as no more than an experimental lab animal. He mourns when Algernon dies because he identifies so strongly with him.

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Both before and immediately after the operation, Charlie sees Algernon as a competitior. Charlie thinks Algernon is a "pretty smart mouse" before his operation because the mouse can beat him by finding his way through a maze faster than Charlie. However, after the operation, Charlie is triumphant the first time he beats Algernon. His attitude changes, however, once he realizes the experiment on his brain will ultimately fail, as the experiment failed with Algernon. He then begins to sympathize with the mouse because they ultimately both share the same fate.

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