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Treatment Of Charlie After His Operation In Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon

1779 words - 7 pages

Mistreatment is an act of harm towards another being that is completely unnecessary and uncalled for. Such deeds are unjust and cruel regardless of the race, gender, intellect, or characteristic that the victim might or might not have. Although it is common knowledge that one should treat their peers as they would like to be treated, everyone has been mistreated multiple times throughout their lives. Daniel Keyes, the author of Flowers for Algernon, presents acts of mistreatment all throughout his novel. The story is based on a realistic, near future world in which a mid-aged mentally challenged man has an experimental operation that elevates his intelligence in several months to a point where he is much smarter than the scientists who devised and performed the operation. With such a drastic change in intellect, he realises that his ‘friends’ have not been as friendly to him before the operation as he once thought, so he becomes cold and untrusting. The main character, Charlie Gordon, has a long psychological and emotional journey to come to terms with himself and the people around him over the course of nine months. Contrary to what he expected, Charlie is treated worse after the operation due to his friends’ hostility and the scientist who insults Charlie.
One way that Keyes shows Charlie’s mistreatment is through his friends’ fear and avoidance of him. Before the operation, Mr. Donner, the owner of the bakery that Charlie works at, had ensured that Charlie would always have a job and a home at the bakery. Charlie would have to otherwise live at an institution for mentally challenged people. Although the other employees at the bakery make fun of him without his knowing, he considers them his friends, and he talks and goes to parties with them. When he has the operation, he becomes much smarter than his friends, and they are no longer able to tease him. He is able to work the baking machines and reorganise them to improve production, a feat that the other employees could never attain. Since Charlie has to keep the experiment a secret, his friends such as Gimpy, who has always been nice to Charlie, are startled and scared when he becomes smart so suddenly: “Everyone seems frightened of me. When I went over to Gimpy and tapped him on the shoulder to ask him something, he jumped up and dropped his cup of coffee all over himself. He stares at me when he thinks I’m not looking. Nobody at the place talks to me anymore, or kids around the way they used to. It makes the job kind of lonely” (Keyes 59). As Charlie becomes smarter, he gets better at baking, and he is paid more. When Mr. Donner arranges him to join the baker’s union, the other employees start to be unfriendly to Charlie. One month later, Charlie is fired from the bakery. All of the employees save one form a delegation and sign a petition to get Charlie fired. They go to the owner, Mr. Donner, with their complaints and he has no choice but to fire Charlie. After Mr. Donner fires him, Charlie...

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