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Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

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1. Research the history of public attitudes towards mental retardation in the United States and discuss the problems Charlie Gordon faces in the novel in the context of this history.

2. The civil rights movement was in full force during the 1960s, with passage of legislation addressing discrimination against African Americans and increasing awareness of the rights of other oppressed groups, including the mentally handicapped. However, prejudice was still widespread, and there was as yet little to no legal protection for mentally handicapped persons. Has this attitude changed? Compare and contrast the treatment of mentally handicapped people during the 1960s with how they are treated today.

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