Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
reviewed by Megan Alle
Would you rather have friends or be intelligent? Is it good to know or good not to know about something? I have heard the phrase “ignorance is bliss” before, but never really thought about it. It means not to know about something and not worry. In his novel, Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes reveals the true meaning of these questions and the quote “ignorance is bliss”.
Charlie Gordon, who the book is centered on, is a kind hearted thirty-two year old man who always had a low-ranking IQ of 68. He has an aspiration to become intelligent and have lots of friends. He has been selected to be apart of an unprecedented experiment that could possibly expand his intelligence that had successfully worked on a mouse Algernon. During the experiment, Charlie becomes smarter and smarter. With the progress reports he has to write for the scientists we see an increase in his writing as well as his reading. He notices things he has never discovered before. Charlie now dreams at night about signs and symbols and writes them in his journal. He realizes later they connect with his past for when he was a child remembering the people, events, and flashbacks to that time. He thinks about the people in his life in the present who they are and how they treated him before he was intelligent and after. Here, Charlie learns about himself and discovers the truth of his past and present. As he thinks things are going the way they plan to Charlie figures out Algernon’s intelligence is dwindling and is scared to see what will happen to him.
The main themes Keyes portrays are identity, love, change, guilt and fear. I loved how these themes related to me. I enjoyed how he used the motif of flashbacks to connect the past and the present together. I have recently begun to notice how many childhood flashbacks are evolving into my current life. He did an outstanding job of keeping me intrigued always wanting to move onto the next page never feeling bored. It really made me think about others always to show respect, treat others equally and not to judge anyone. I highly recommend this book for an individual who wants an easy read that will make their reading experience enjoyable and always put a smile on one’s face.