Critical Review Of Flowers For Algernon By Daniel Keyes


The book is certainly one of the greatest human inventions. Through book can be learned new ideas, new ways to solve a problem, and new ways to achieve a goal, you begin to have a better understanding of a topic that interest you. Self-improvement starts from reading, through reading you have a better understanding and better decisions to take in the future. it is started easy to understand what should be done and what must not be done. Reading helps you understand the world more. As said an English writer of the 19th century 'Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book! They teach us and open their hearts to us as brothers'. The book “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes is one of the famous works. This book addresses issues that are familiar to most readers. People are trying to ignore them or do not think. Topics such as attitudes toward the weak, questions about different levels of intelligence between ordinary people, about patience and behavior in relation to underdeveloped people, about experimenting with people and the intellect. At the time of writing a book review, it was found that “Flowers for Algernon” is included in the compulsory reading program in American schools. Every young person should ask themselves the questions that Daniel Keyes puts in his work. ‘Flowers for Algernon is a book that says to you: “I want you to question everything you know”.

Summary of Content 

Charlie Gordon - the protagonist of the novel, he is 32 years old; from his person is all the narrative. This is a weak-minded kind guy who works in a bakery. He considers himself happy because he has many friends. He loves people and wants them to like him too. More than anything, he wants to be smart, so that people love him. At this time, two university professors are studying the abilities of the brain, set up experiments. They have their own scientific theory, which they are trying to put into practice under the financing of the foundation. After many unsuccessful attempts on animals, the experience finally turned out to be successful. A lab mouse named Algernon shows amazing abilities. The experiment was not completed, but the professors decide to apply it to a person. Charlie agrees to this experiment, falls on the operation. After he becomes smart. Not immediately, but gradually. And also gradually, some things that he could not comprehend begin to reach him. 

The book is built in the form of Charlie Gordon's reports, which he writes both before the operation and after the operation. In reports, Charlie talks about his life, about his experiences. At first, the reader sees how kind and simple a person is. He treats people around him very well, does not offend anyone, and works conscientiously at the bakery. Gradually, he already becomes much smarter than other people, begins to understand more. The development of mental abilities allows you to read different books. But at the same time, he realizes that his experience and emotional level are too small. He does not grow emotionally. It takes years. He has no adult outlook on life. He remained at the level of those emotions that he had in childhood. For example, children's love for a teacher dramatically turns into a relationship between adults. But Charlie is not ready for this. Together with the development of mental abilities, Charlie begins to recall his past life. Memories were in his head before, but he did not understand them. Memories were not available as an incomprehensible very clever thing. Memories give rise to a lot of emotions in him with which it is difficult for him to fight. 

Charlie Gordon after many years decides to visit his parents. Father, he does not dare to say that it is he, his son. This moment in the book is described very emotionally and sincerely. He doubted for a long time how his father would react to this meeting? Is it worth it to come to him? Does he tell his son? As a result, he did not dare to speak frankly with his father. Then Charlie’s meeting with her mother and sister is just as emotional. There is a change in the mother - she is already at that age when the memory begins to fail. She remembers Charlie and pushes him away. And his sister grew into an adult, responsible and intelligent woman. She finds out Charlie, asks him to stay with her and with her mother. But he cannot stay with her since his time is coming to end. By this time, it turns out that in the experiment the scientists made a mistake. And the exact error counting and countdown time Charlie calculated himself. By this time, he was far superior to his creators in his mental abilities. And this means that Algernon and Charlie Gordon will have to lose their memory very rapidly. Soon the mouse Algernon loses its abilities, becomes nervous, aggressive and dies. Then Charlie also begins to lose his abilities, begins to forget everything that he has acquired. He goes back to the bakery, where he is treated differently from the beginning. The only thing that remembers and does at the end of Charlie is not to stay in the bakery, but to go to an orphanage for the mentally retarded. When the hero loses all his mental abilities and again becomes stupid of his last prayer was to put flowers for Algernon on his grave. 

Analysis and Evaluation of the book 

During the reading this book, many questions arise from the ethics of experimentation, how society treats those less fortunate, the numerous sharp observations Charlie makes about status, human nature, friendship, and forgiveness. Further will be spelled out several questions and conclusions made by me after reading the book “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes. 

The first. When you read this book, the question arises: How do people with weak minds live? Most people sometimes see suffering from dementia people like Charlie Gordon next to them, but they react to them as if everything is standard - turn away and do not notice. After all, they have their own problems, their affairs, and responsibilities. But how do people live like Charlie Gordon? Who gives them love? Who is their friend, who do they want to like? And how much love, patience, and strength do people have who have dedicated themselves to living with such people? After all, a weak-minded child can be born in any family and how many among us who can give them a part of their souls. This topic is covered in his book Daniel Keyes showing the attitude of Charlie's parents. It's hard to blame Charlie's parents. Not everyone can even do what they could do. His father was quite a rational man and understood the hopelessness of his mother’s efforts. It seems to me that if Charlie had stayed with his father, he would have lived the normal life of thousands of his own kind. A father would take care of him without trying to make a normal person out of him. And the attitude of the mother, who wanted to have a family like everyone else, made him unhappy, broke relations in the family. 

The second. Why do people laugh at imbeciles? We help the disabled person without legs to cross the road. We help a person without hands to wear a coat. But we often do not feel and do not see the one who is deprived of mental abilities. Not only that, people often makes fun of them, showing their advantage. Charlie Gordon in the book says: “How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence.” (Daniel K. 1987) Charlie Gordon's last goal is to get into a shelter for the mentally retarded, to be among the likes of himself. Because our world is cruel. Charlie survived all the bullying; he saw it as an old boy, an idiot and as an adult intelligent man. I believe that being deprived of sufficient reason is the most severe injury. The reason is the most important thing in man. Stephen Hawking, paralyzed by a terrible disease, gradually lost all motor functions, could not speak. But thanks to reason, until his death, he remained one of the brightest scientists of our planet. 

The third. Is it possible to put such experiments on people? The experiment with Charlie may not be the worst. But there may be more terrible experiences. Especially now, when science is on the verge of recognizing brain processes. When computer power and nanotechnology will allow creating artificial intelligence, more powerful than a human. When human DNA is studied at the molecular level. Is it necessary? After all, with the birth of artificial intelligence or superman, we will all become like Charlie Gordon. The book 'Flowers for Algernon' refers to science fiction. But in this book, only the operation is science fiction itself. And it seems to me that soon it will cease to be fiction. Fourth. What is more important: to be happy, but stupid or clever and unloved by all, lonely? This question arises when comparing the weak-minded boy Charlie and the adult Charlie-genius. Who deserves more pity. An idiot boy that everyone made fun of? Or an adult, smarter than most of humanity, arrogant and lonely? In today's world, the person that becomes smarter, the more cynical and selfish it becomes. At the same time, all weak-minded people are very kind, non-aggressive. According to Ernest Hemingway “happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” This question remains unanswered since each person decides for himself what is more important for him and what his values are. The most important thing is to remain humanitarian with any result. 


Daniel Keyes, who had been teaching at a school for backward children for a long time, a philologist by profession, was able to convey to us the way of thinking of his charges. Their simple dreams, joys, and experiences. At the same time, he compared their kindness, simplicity, and openness with our cynicism, indifference, egoism. This novel showing the rise and fall of the human spirit, makes us think about how big the role of intellect in man, as far as the level of the intellectual development of man and transforms radically changes the relationship with the people. I recommend everyone who has not read, read this book. This is a book about the mind, about the human soul. On the relationship between mind and soul. About how important it is to be human. I think this book will, first of all, make us more human and kind and opens eyes to many vital moments, calling to appeal to morality. 

16 December 2021
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