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Flowers For Algernon Theme: Disabilities Essay

709 words - 3 pages

Even though Daniel Keyes wrote Flowers for Algernon in 1966, its messages about humanity still are true today. One of these themes is people treat people with mental disabilities poorly. The main character Charlie Gordon is a mentally disabled adult with a low IQ. Charlie is constantly being picked on by others, but he doesn’t realize it because he’s too slow to figure it out. Later on in the story, however, Charlie is chosen to get an operation to have his IQ is raised. I think people today are still picking on others who are less smarter than them.
The first piece of evidence to support this theme is found when Charlie has one of his flashbacks from the past. “‘Charlie! Charlie!...fat head barley!’ Children circle around him laughing and teasing him like little dogs snapping at his feet. Charlie smiles at them. He would like to put down his bundle and play games with them, but when he thinks about it the skin on his back twitches and ...view middle of the document...

Whenever the main character’s mother goes out in public, she gets stares of disapproval and sometimes even rude comments.
Another example of how people treat others poorly just because they’re not as smart as them is taking place in another of Charlie’s flashbacks. “He tells Hymie to write...Hymie prints very carefully in large letters on the paper, laughing all the time, and he tells Charlie, ‘Boy, this will knock her eyes out. Wait’ll she sees this’...Gus pushes him. ‘You little bastard, did you write this dirty note to my sister?’” (Keyes 53-54). Hymie, a “friend” of Charlie, is asked to write a love note for Charlie’s crush. Hymie agrees to write it but decides to play a mean trick on the unsuspecting Charlie. Instead of a sweet note, he writes a dirty note. Charlie is then confronted by his crush’s brother and gets beat up because of the note. I think this happens a lot with teens today. They take advantage of their peers who are mentally disabled for their own entertainment. Teens who are mentally disabled also get bullied by their peers.
The final piece of evidence that supports this theme is one of Charlie’s realizations. “Now I know what they mean when they say ‘to pull a Charlie Gordon’. I am ashamed” (Keyes 42-43). Before the operation when Charlie wasn’t smart, his co-workers at the bakery he was working at bullied and teased him. Sometimes they comment on other co-workers’ actions, saying “wow, you really pulled a Charlie Gordon there.” Charlie did not know they were using that phrase to mock him. He always thought they were calling his name for fun. Now that he’s smart, he knows what’s going on. This treatment of Charlie is similar to the backtalk that people do today. Even if the person isn’t mentally disabled, they are going to find out about it sooner or later. They’ll feel bad about being mocked and talked about.
In conclusion, a theme in the novel Flowers for Algernon is people treat other people with mental disabilities poorly. I think this still happens today. I agree with the the author’s message about this theme. I think that Keyes is trying to reach a message to people to treat others better and to understand life, as well as writing a creative story for people to enjoy.

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