Homeschooling Teen

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Flowers for Algernon Book Review

By Nick Maker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book has to be, one of the most amazing story driven plots I have ever read in my life! What can I say about this book, it is so beautiful; it describes the things about human intelligence and the mockery of it. The characters are well written, the concept is down to earth brilliant, and even the main protagonist is related to the audience! Before I explain my thoughts about it, I should tell you that it will contain some major spoils after the plot section, so if you don’t want spoilers then stop. All I can say is read it and find out.

Plot

The plot takes place in New York City around the mid-1960s. The protagonist is Charlie Gordon; a mentally unintellectual person who wishes to have “smarts” like many other people. When the science institute invited Charlie for an experiment, he eventually becomes intelligent. However, later on in his life something goes wrong (as always) and the scientist finds out that the mouse Algernon (the experiment mouse) has a decrease in IQ, and wonders whether Charlie would be effected as well.

MAJOR SPOILER!

Characters

Charlie Gordon:

Charlie has to be one of the most interesting and understandable characters in the book. He’s both child-like innocent and wise at the same time. The first chapter of the book really starts well as you can tell by reading the book. Charlie’s handwriting isn’t very good, but we the readers can still understand of what he’s speaking. Later on in the “transformation” you can immediately tell that his handwriting improves and is even sophisticated as well. Charlie battles the biased society of intelligence through his expression toward the scientist that he is still a person. He explains throughout the story a given reason to have intelligence just to be “consciously aware” or to lose it in order to have a sense of freedom or the innocence back!

Another grand thing about him is that some stuff that he said is actually true! The part when he said to himself, “why is it when we’re high up we tend to make fun of the incompetent?” Another one he said was how we got fooled by people into thinking they are gods of intelligence when really they only know the one part they acquired for a certain career and not all the knowledge.

Alice Kinnian:

Alice has been the supportive character in Charlie’s life trying to teach him the ways of living or in this case have a normal life. To me I look at her as the passive character, because she has always tried to lend a hand to Charlie and give some insightful advice to Charlie.

Prof. Nemur and Dr. Strauss:

Both characters have similar ideas but their approach to Charlie is far different from each other. Prof. Nemur may be a physiologist but he treats Charlie as a test subject. But you kind of feel sorry for the guy because of the pressure of his wife trying to get his PhD degree by perfecting the IQ experiment on Gordon. A good example for everyday life for anybody who tries to make a success out of life. Either in school where students are pressured to have good grades to make their parents proud and feel like they can be a somebody. Or at work where they pressured themselves to make a good impression to their boss by outperforming the other employees.

Dr. Strauss is more considerate of behavior changes than Nemur at IQ changes. Both again work well on each other because neither one of them can succeed without the other. If one can’t understand the other, how does somebody know how the brain works both conscious and unconscious?

Mr. Donner:

The owner of a bakery, he is a kind man to Charlie and he’s the one who hired him to be a janitor. He refers to his employees as “part of the family” but in some cases he can be too trusting to his employees when he’s out. Which to me I think is a bad thing since his employees are stealing money from him and pick on Charlie a lot, (even if Charlie thinks that they are playing a game).

The concept of the setting

I think that back in the days when the brain wasn’t much influence to the scientist or their technology wasn’t strong enough at the time, people just misjudged all mental disease as madness or retarded. It is a good time line of the story of how people acted and why in the 60s.

The bad side

As much as I love the book entirely there are just four small mistakes that effect the story.

  1. The resolution of Charlie and Mr. Donner: He was fired by Donner because the employees don’t like the new Charlie and he fights with them (even though the employees should have known by now that something is going on with Charlie about the experiment!) He never talked to Donner about the situation because that would cause some confusion and compromise about the deal that he had with the scientist. Even though he was reverting back into the old Charlie he still won’t explain or even tell Donner that your employees are stealing from you! That’s common sense which frustrates me that he doesn’t tell his friend about the store, which keep in mind he’s having financial trouble!
  1. The resolution with the Mother: This one is a bit nitpicky and not much affects the plot but hear me out. I kind of like how the chapter plays with the Mother and Sister reaction when Gordon visited his old home once more. The sister scene was beautiful but the bittersweet moment was the mother’s reaction to Gordon thinking that he’s touching his sister’s breast. Her mind got so warped out from the present that she’s stuck in the past thinking of the old Charlie! The mother grabbed the knife and threatened to kill him, he suddenly got yanked out from Gordon’s sister and asked to take your pills. Gordon apologizes to her for coming here and leaves the place. What I don’t like about this scene is what Charlie could have said (at least to her sister) is this: “I wish my mother could have accepted me for what I am back as a child, rather than to erase me. Maybe then, I could have felt that she actually loves me than to remember her as a fearful mother.” That could have been a memorable scene, like facing his father only at the end he couldn’t bring himself showing his face in his dad’s barber shop of what he had become.
  1. The resolution of Fay and Alice: When Charlie tries to discover his sexuality he tried to date Alice; it works for the moment but eventually failed (kinda.) He is still technically dating her, but at the same he dates with another woman named Fay. She’s sexually hot and friskier than Alice, he needs some excitement but it didn’t go so well also. At the mid book he starts (I guess) testing his experience in polygamy and doesn’t tell Alice about it. Why the reason I’m not exactly sure but he’s poor at relationship skills. When his IQ starts to drop he still doesn’t tell about the affair with her. Nor that she never finds out about him dating someone. At the end they had a bitter fight and she’s sad to see Charlie again when he’s himself again. Really? I kind of wish that Alice would find out about Charlie’s “experiment” and improve the outcome of the situation between them. Even if they will never marry, at least they might find each other mutual respect.
  1. The resolution with himself: This one is a hard one and I mean a hard one to think about. Not only that I can’t argue with him about the fear that he doesn’t wish to go back as “old Charlie” and tries to retain his intelligence. He argues that the old Charlie is still inside him and still controls his emotion whenever he drinks heavily on alcohol. I’m sorry, but what is this turning into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide story! He doesn’t want to lose his consciousness and be treated bad again by society and never know what’s happening around him! I get his feeling but there is just one, maybe one idea that Charlie could have to at least cope with the problem. He could have just accepted the old Charlie as much as he accepts himself. The old self has a child character that everybody loves while the new Charlie (though a jerk later on) has ideas to share with the world about his experience and not fester to himself! He could at least tell everyone about his life experience in crossing both worlds on his own! When he felt a different person by turning the old Charlie into new Charlie! He never seems to express his feelings entirely even to Alice and just keeps close the important core parts of his emotions to himself. It may not solve the problem and even if he has to go back to his old world; at least he found closure.

About Nick: “I am a studious person who loves reading and loves researching about virtually anything! I play the piano and every year I have to give a performance in a church. I love video games – especially when it’s a puzzle and action game. I would like to become a programmer one day in the field of computer science. I love my family so much, even if we drive each other crazy sometimes, we’re still one big happy family.”

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