Flowers For Algernon Essay

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Jake Condron Flowers for Algernon (Fiction) Daniel Keyes; Harcourt, Brace & World 1966 Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon may be the most widely read award-winning story that its readers never stopped to think of as science fiction. Ever since its release in novel form in 1966, it has been a staple of required English (or psychology) reading lists. When I first read it in the beginning of eighth grade at HB DuPont, there was nothing said about this being a SF story, yet over 4 years later, it is perhaps one of my all-time SF favorites, despite not thinking of it in those terms until a few years ago. Centered around the progress report/diaries that the mildly retarded (IQ 68) Charlie Gordon writes over a memorable eight month period, Flowers for Algernon immediately captures the reader's attention through the direct way in which Charlie speaks to the reader. Learning immediately that he is an eager-to-please adult, we take pity on Charlie, as he struggles with the immediate aftermath of a radical new surgery designed to boost his intelligence to over twice that of "normal" adults. We see the many cruel jokes played on him by his co-workers at Mr. Donner's bakery and the realization Charlie has to what "pulling a Charlie Gordon" means to those who measure their own self-worth against that of a mentally unabled adult. However, Keyes' story is much more complex than just detailing the differentness with which we treat those among us who are mentally lower-functioning. When I chose to revisit Flowers for Algernon for the first time since reading it in eighth grade, I had in memory Charlie's radical transformation from a child-like, trusting simple soul to a cynical, arrogant, somewhat aloof genius who still lived in fear of the inner Charlie within. While this impression is of course a true one, it is also very

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