Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

flowers for algernon

A lot of people are put off by the science fiction genre. They think that sci-fi only consists of stories about robots, aliens, and futuristic technology. Flowers for Algernon, however, is a sci-fi novel that deviates from these typical conventions. 

The novel centres around the protagonist, Charlie, who is about to undergo an experimental operation which will hopefully make him smarter. His story is told through a series of progress reports written by Charlie himself. This method of narration works really well because readers are able to follow him through his journey of discovery as he transitions from a mentally challenged man to a full blown genius; he learns how to read for the first time, he falls in love, and he makes his own brilliant scientific breakthroughs.

The novel also touches on the moral and ethical treatment of those with disabilities. It makes you reflect on society and the way people act towards those who are mentally challenged and those who are extremely intelligent. Charlie is made fun of in the beginning of the novel because he is not very bright and because he is not able to communicate in a complex way. But ignorance is bliss, and he does not recognise this negative treatment from his peers. However, once his intelligence improves, Charlie realises that his so-called friends are actually bullies. They still continue to treat him differently, even though he is much smarter than before, because they are jealous and frightened of his genius.

Flowers for Algernon is a heart warming, thought provoking story that explores some of the worst attributes people can have, but at the same time exhibits the best parts of human kind by showing how wonderful people can be when you least expect it.

 

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