Flowers For Algernon Analysis Essay

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It is said that the insane and mentally challenged people are happy; they do not know what reality is and live in what they imagine. Everyone also lives in their own world of preferences, prejudices, tastes, habits, illusions. For people with health problems, the world is narrower because the disease, and the attitude of others around it, are two limiters of opportunities. In one of his most prominent works, Flowers for Algernon, Dan Keyes uses the technique of psychologism, with the help of which the reader is immersed in the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. The readers manage to see the world and feel it through the vision of a person who is not like everyone else, from the perspective of a person who does not fit into the notorious framework of “normality”.

Summary and Analysis

The story of Daniel Keyes Flowers for Algernon was awarded many prestigious literary awards, often called a story or even a novel, and filmed several times, including as a musical. Not every relatively short novella receives so much attention and honors, and this is by no means an accident, everything is quite natural. Keyes created a masterpiece, which name is not ashamed to put the title to any collections. It is very often used by their compilers, and this is another indicator of literary quality (Flood). The themes brought up in the Flowers for Algernon are often considered to be relevant today as the subject of “normality” in human society has been one of the most controversial in all history.

The protagonist of the book, Charlie, works as a janitor in a bakery and goes to a school for developmental delays. He is naive and good-natured because he has an extremely low IQ. Scientists offer him to participate in an experiment, to perform a brain operation, and Charlie agrees, he is sure that if he gets smarter, people will love him. The narrative is constantly attempting to deliver an idea that “intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts,” yet it is not a panacea for those who pursue being a truly “good person” in society (Keyes 33). As the story eventually demonstrates, intelligence alone might not always be enough to be accepted completely.

Although the story initially attempts to present an idea of absolute intelligence being a key to acceptance straightforwardly, the resolution is quite different. Of the characters, for example, a special role is occupied by Charlie's mother, who could not accept that he was not as smart and successful as the neighbors' children and was ashamed of him. At the beginning of the story, however, Charlie hypothesized that the “mind absorbed in and involved in itself as a self-centered end, to the exclusion of human relationships, can only lead to violence and pain” (Keyes 33). The protagonist understands that knowledge alone no matter how deep it might be is not enough to be understood in society as well as understand it.

The idea chosen by Keyes remains extremely important to this day and is often used by modern authors to demonstrate the importance of emotion and socialization in human society. Stephen King, for example, has already touched on it in his Lawnmower Man, and Penny Marshall's Awakening has made a lot of noise. Keyes wrote his story much earlier, back in 1958, being one of the first to begin to develop this idea so widely in popular fiction. Many readers praised Flowers for Algernon so much that a few years later, in 1966, Keys published a novel of the same name, hence the confusion with the definitions (story/novel). In this way, the author significantly expanded this story by making a remake (Flood). Yet, the idea and synopsis were not all the factors that defined the success of the story and novel.

Flowers for Algernon is unique because it is written in the form of a protagonist’s diary. Keyes “preserved” the spelling and punctuation of the author of this diary, which belongs to Charlie Gordon, a young man with a very low (only seventy points) level of intelligence. A person who, according to the plot of the story, became a volunteer in a medical experiment to increase the efficiency of the brain. Keyes also revealed this topic from the position of kindness and sincerity, humanity. The relevance of what the author said, his invaluable idea, has only increased since then (Flood). The main idea of the story is not merely “told,” it is shown to the reader with them being able to experience the similar feelings Charlie has throughout the story.


The idea of the importance of emotion and empathy in human life is not new and was not exactly new when Keyes wrote the story and published the book. However, the storytelling technique the author used in the book as well as the sincerity of the protagonist always manages to attract new readers. That is why even at the first acquaintance with this book, almost from the very beginning it is clear where all the story leads. At all times there were only two options for the finale: very sad and the saddest, Daniel Keys chose the second. At the same time, the moral lessons and ideas presented in the Flowers for Algernon appear to be relevant even after decades, with readers being able to associate themselves with Charlie, no matter who they are and what era they live in.

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Works Cited

Flood, Alison. "Flowers For Algernon's Sad, Sweet Genius".The Guardian, 2014,

Keyes, Daniel.Flowers For Algernon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007.

May 12, 2022




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