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Introduction/General information about the book

Title: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keyes

Date first edition: as a short story -> April 1959

as a novel -> March 1966
Genre (fantasy, humour, science-fiction, mystery, biography, non-fiction, etc.):
It is science-fiction, a biography of Charlie Gordon, a fictitious character.

Describe the time and place of the story:
In the sixties and in the USA, but it actually doesnt really affect the story. It is interesting,
because thus we can identify this story everywhere at any time. Therefore, it has a bigger
impact on us who dont live in the USA.
Comment about the setting (examples: the setting makes story exciting, the setting has an
important effect on main character, the setting is/is not exciting or new, the setting
increased my knowledge of something:
The setting doesnt have a meaningful impact on the characters and the story.

Main character
Main Character: Charlie Gordon

Describe this character:

He was retarded, a naive person. He is about 30 years old. He has been sent by his
parents in the school for retarded adults, so he has no more contacts with them.

The main character changes from a naive retarded boy to an extremely smart man, a
genius, but finally he was again a retarded boy, knowing now more of the humans by the
end of the story.

Other characters (2 minimum 6 max.)

Another character: Professor Nemur

Details: He is the scientist that led the experience. He dedicated his whole life to this work.
He considered Charlie as a guinea pig, although Charlie reminded him that he was a
human before the experience. Therefore, Charlie didnt like him at all.

Another character: Dr. Jayson Strauss

Details: He closely followed the experience, because he was the neurosurgeon, but he was
also the Charlies psychiatric during the experience, for therapy. He really wanted to help
Charlie. Nevertheless, Charlie didnt appreciate him.

Another character: Burt

Details: He is a character who is directly linked to the experience. He is in charge of testing
the intelligence of Charlie.

Another character: Alice

Details: She was a teacher in the school for retarded adults. Charlie was one of her
students. She recommended Charlie to the experience. While Charlies intellect grew, he
fell in love with her, but it was not reciprocal. They kept their friendship till Charlie became
again foolish, he was rude with her.

Another character: Algernon

Details: Algernon is the mouse that first got the operation. So, it became smarter, but not as
much as Charlie will be. Charlie got a big friendship with it; hence, when Algernon died,
Charlie dug a grave for it in his yard.

Another character: Fay

Details: Fay was Charlies neighbor when he bought his flat in New York. Her flat was never
locked; therefore, Charlie came when he wanted to see her. They became friends, and then
lovers. Their relationship floundered when Charlie understood that his intelligence would

What is the author trying to say in this story? What is his lesson in life?
Is there a moral to this story?
The author is trying to open our eyes on the society. He is trying to make us more think
about some things. Moreover, the story opposes the important scientific improvement.
This is a story about what? (Courage? Working hard? Doing the right thing? Greed?
Importance of friends? Jealousy? Love? Caring? Happiness? Sadness? etc)
This story encompasses many topics, it is a kind a lesson of much of the life. Thereby, in
my opinion it covers working hard, love, sadness, caring, importance of friends and family,
but the main one is the human psychology.

This book showed me/ I learned from this story:
On one hand, I learned that we should develop more caring, empathy, but on the other
hand that we should not be too naive counter other persons.

The Action: Summary of what happens in the story (list up to 6 events that happened in
the story - keep them in order):
- To begin, Charlie began to write the progress reports and he got his surgery a few
weeks later.
- A few other weeks later, he became extremely intelligent and heavily fast, so now he
learned a lot.
- At a certain point, he thought that everyone was a bit against him, that he was only
considered as a guinea pig, thus he ran away of all the project.
- He bought a flat in New York and met Fay, at this moment Charlie is blooming.
- Unfortunately, he understood that his intelligence is going to decrease again, perhaps
lower than before the surgery. He discovered a new scientific law that he called The
Algernon-Gordon Effect.
- Finally, his intelligence decreased abruptly, for instance, at a moment, he couldnt speak
any more foreign languages that he learned before, after his wordings decreased, and
lastly, he forgot that he wasnt following classes in the center for retarded adults, so he
went back to them.

Evaluation of the book

What did you think of the book? It is a pretty pessimistic, but realistic view of the world.
What did you like about the book? First, the plot was interesting.
I also liked that manner we read the story. Indeed, it was as they call it progress report
written by Charlie. It is a kind of diary, but the purpose of it is the science, therewith the
scientists know his feelings.
I, as well, enjoyed that in the progress report, when he was dumb, he wrote with
mistakes and with a simple syntax, and thus we could see his improvement just by his
Furthermore, I appreciate what about the story wanted to make us think.
What didnt you like about the book? Perhaps that it is against the big scientific
Was the story confusing or hard to believe? The change of Charlie is hard to believe,
but it is science-fiction, so in a way, it is comprehensible.
Was the story predictable (could you guess what was going to happen?) Yes, I think we
could guess what was going to happen, but not how it was going to happen, all the
obstacles and the situations.
Was the story believable? How Charlie discovers the real world is really believable, it
opens our eyes.
The ending was really upsetting and it came abruptly.

LG, 14/05/2017