Symbolism In The Allegory Of The Cave

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Being Laid Off: Charlie's Co-workers Release from the Cave
Aymon Langlois

In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” prisoners are chained in a cave. While inside the cave, they are presented with unreal images projected by a fire. After a time, one prisoner is released from his chains and allowed to see the sun and the outside world. When he returns to the cave to tell the others of his new discovery, they think nothing of it and believe that he is crazy for saying such things. This allegory can be connected to most stories through the symbolism it creates. For example, in Daniel Keyes’ short story “Flowers for Algernon,” the co-workers are like the "released prisoners" from "Allegory of the Cave" as they too become enlightened in the end. Throughout
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At this point, Charlie’s doctors have performed the operation and Charlie’s IQ has been greatly increased, if not tripled. The factory men are now fearful, and are no longer blindly hateful of him because they realize the truth that he is human and they feel inferior due to his superior intellect. While they do realize this truth they find it painful and difficult to accept. Therefore, they take the harsh following measures. This situation escalates until one day, Mr. Donnegan, the head of the factory, pulls Charlie aside and insists “that it would be better for all concerned if I left” (12). At this time, Mr. Donnegan presents Charlie with a petition that nearly everyone at the factory has signed to request his removal from the workplace. On the petition are 800 signatures that back the removal of Charlie. Charlie realizes in weeks past that “Everybody seems to be frightened of me” (11) and that “People don't talk to me much anymore” (11). In the past, Charlie’s co-workers may be somewhat disturbed by or frightened of him inwardly because of his challenges. However, they never stopped talking to him because they were constantly making fun of him. While the situation has changed, it still has not improved for Charlie. Charlie also believes that all of these occurrences are his fault as he ponders “What did I do to make them hate me so?” In…show more content…
When one of the new employees, who may have temporarily replaced Charlie and is not enlightened like the rest now are, pokes fun at Charlie “Joe Carp came over and grabbed him by the shirt and said leave him alone you lousy cracker or Ill break your neck” (21). In this way, the co-workers seemingly return to the cave as well to share their findings. It is not clear, however, how they are received as the story does not speak of how this unenlightened co-worker retaliates. Afterwards, Frank Riley says to Charlie that “if anybody bothers you or trys to take advantage you call me or Joe and we will set em straight” (21). In these two examples it shows that his co-workers who were earlier very rude, now realize the larger picture, that they should have stuck up for Charlie a lot sooner. They have now gone through a complete transformation in behavior and now act acceptable and even kind to Charlie. They finally realize he, as well as those others who are mentally disabled are people who have feelings and deserve respect. When Charlie realizes that these men are now accepting of him and are really his friends, he collapses into tears of happiness and thinks to himself “It's good to have friends” (21). At one point,
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