Charlie Gordon's Flowers For Algernon

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The science fiction novel Flowers for Algernon is narrated with progress reports written by Charlie Gordon. He introduces himself as a mentally disabled 32 year old man working at Donner’s Bakery. His progress reports are used to determine whether or not he will participate in an operation to increase intelligence. The directors of the experiment decide to use Charlie when he completes a series of tests. The surgery proves to be a success and Charlie becomes a genius. After the experiment, Charlie begins to experience many problems caused by his increased intelligence. The book concludes with Charlie writing a report called Algernon-Gordon effect and reverting back to his original intelligence. Charlie wants to be smarter because, “If your…show more content…
This is supported when he says, “I am just as far away from Alice with an I.Q. of 185 as I was when I had an I.Q. of 70.” (Keyes 126) The quote shows Charlie’s high intelligence does not help him get closer to Alice but instead creates a barrier between them. His superior intelligence makes Alice feel bad and makes her self confidence decrease because she does not understand the topics he likes to discuss. After their conversations, she feels the need to convince herself she is not getting dumber or going senile and that it was actually Charlie’s intelligence increasing. Their difference in intelligence makes Alice miserable and creates a gap between them. When they begin speaking after their first argument, Charlie reveals, “All these months while I’ve been growing intellectually, I’ve still had the emotional wiring of the childlike Charlie. And every time I came close to you, or thought about making love to you, there was a short circuit.” (Keyes 202) Charlie’s rapid intellectual development and lack of emotional development made him feel like there were two different Charlies in is mind, one before and after the operation. His dissociation prevented him from advancing his relationship with Alice because the mentally disabled Charlie would panic whenever Charlie tried to engage in sexual activities with Alice. In conclusion, Charlie’s developing relationship…show more content…
His intelligence prevents him from developing his relationship with Alice, stops him from making more friends, and makes him lose his friends from the bakery. For instance, Charlie’s rapid intellectual development makes Alice feel insecure about her own intelligence, forcing her to distance her relationship with him. Charlie’s intelligence also leads to him feeling detached from himself and panicking from sexual activities, further hindering his relationship with Alice. Additionally, Charlie’s superior intelligence prevents him from forming new friendships because he cannot relate to his peers, begins looking down on and resenting people with inferior intelligence, and changes his personality. Another example of disadvantages intelligence results in is Charlie’s loss of friends. As Charlie says, “What matters is that before I got involved in this experiment I had friends, people who cared for me.” (Keyes 110) His intelligence lead to his realisation that his friends were using him for their own amusement, caused his friends to become hostile due to their inferior intelligence, and gets him fired from the bakery. The reason Charlie wanted to be smart was to make new friends but his increasing intelligence only cause him more and more problems. Therefore, intelligence is not always
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