Flowers for Algernon
“That's the thing about human life -- there is no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed.” In the novel, “Flowers for Algernon,” by Daniel Keyes, Charlie Gordon had the chance to see what his life would be like if any of the “variables” had changed. Charlie grew up with an unusually low IQ of 68, but he had a lot of perseverance. Two very important people entered his life, Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss. They conducted an experiment that can cause an IQ to raise. It was first tested on mice and the only successful one was named Algernon. First they put Charlie through a series of tests to see his mental level. One of those tests included an inkblot test that really stood out to Charlie. They then used the same procedure on him that they used on Algernon in the hopes that he would get smarter. The procedure turned out to be successful at first. The professor and doctor had Charlie write progress reports so that they can see what was happening in his life. They saw that as Charlie got smarter he divided himself into two people, the old (other) Charlie and the new Charlie. The progress reports helped the reader see that there were many types of symbolism throughout the story. Some symbols that the author used in the story would include the other Charlie, Algernon, and the inkblots.
The other Charlie represented the new Charlie’s developing fear of being emotionally attached to people. The symbol also showed that throughout the book whenever Charlie was getting smarter, his past was still with him. “But I knew it would only get worse as long as Charlie felt there was a danger I’d make love to her.” (Keyes p. 203) It showed that Charlie had a fear of being emotionally attached to people, and was using the other Charlie to portray his feelings. His fear of being emotionally attached to people was shown when he wasn’t capable of making love to Alice. “Because if I get drunk, you’ll see a different Charlie Gordon from the one you’ve come to know. Yes, the other Charlie who walked in the darkness is still here with us. Inside me.” (Keyes p. 248) It showed that even though Charlie was getting smarter and becoming a new person, he still held on to the past and the old Charlie. Holding on to the past also included the new Charlie transferring his feelings into the old Charlie so that he would always remember him. In other words, he used the other Charlie to symbolize his feelings and emotions.
An important symbol in the novel, “Flowers for Algernon,” would be Algernon. He represented Charlie's goal in intelligence. Charlie felt that just like Algernon, he was trapped in a maze and wasn’t viewed as an individual, but as a human test subject for an experiment. “That makes it diffrint. I coud probaly do that amazed faster then a reglar mouse. Maybe some day Ill beat Algernon. Boy would that be something.” (Keyes p. 22) It showed that Algernon was a symbol because it was...