“Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes
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In the story “Flowers for Algernon”, the main character Charlie Gordon has an operation that triples his IQ from sixty-eight to 204. At the end of the story Charlie’s IQ returns to sixty-eight. This experiment was the worst thing that ever happened to Charlie. Charlie did not have a high enough IQ to make an intelligent decision on his own, the experiment messed with Mother Nature’s path of life and most of all it ruined any happiness or contentment that Charlie ever felt prior to the experiment.
Charlie was forced to make an unfair decision. With an IQ of only sixty-eight Charlie could not have understood the good and bad sides of the operation. All Charlie knew was that he wanted to be smart and this operation could get him his greatest desire in one easy procedure. Because Charlie was mentally challenged, Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur did not take into consideration that it could hurt Charlie badly in the long run, and they did not make sure he thoroughly understood the consequences and side effects that would follow. There was nothing to let Charlie understand the huge amount of knowledge he would gain and how it would change his life forever.
He did not want to be a genius; he did not want to know about “the mathematical variance equivalent in Dorbermanns Fifth Concert”. Charlie thought Miss Kinnian was a genius just because she could give him reasons for things like punctuation; he didn’t have to become any smarter than that to be happy, not even close. Charlie was convinced that once he had the operation that he’d be like everyone else and people would like him. The doctors did not take that into consideration or explain to him that the operation would not result in more people liking him and he would not be everyone else, he would be completely different from the rest of the world.
Mother Nature’s cycle of life is imbalanced due to this operation. If scientists were to continue doing these experiments on humans it would create a large inequality in the natural cycle that Mother Nature has created. There is an unknown reason behind why there are some people with low IQ’s and some people with high IQ’s. If everyone’s IQ could be tripled everyone would be too intelligent to do the small jobs in life, the less exciting jobs such as a janitor or a factory worker. Charlie will soon die due to the damage done by the operation. His death will also set off an imbalance because if it hadn’t been for the operation he never would have died. That’s one more person that wasn’t supposed to die yet, that did.
Charlie was content before the operation. Charlie had ‘friends’, or so he though, even though they were cruel to him. He lost his friends. He was fine with his job as a janitor and he enjoyed his adult night classes with Miss Kinnian. Once Charlie had his operation he lost all of that. With the intelligence he had, he couldn’t use it. He wasn’t smart long enough to put his immense knowledge to any incredible use like solving world hunger and poverty or stopping any wars. He became unhappy during his euphoria because no one understood him. As he fell from his climax he lost everything he had gained, plus everything from before the operation.
Some people would argue that the operation was a good thing for Charlie because he was able to fulfill his dream. This is true, but was the price of his life worth it? Not until after the operation did Charlie realize that his incredible intelligence was not going sustain forever. To crush Charlie even more, Algernon died. This put in reality that what happened to Algernon would soon happen to Charlie too. How much is a dream worth? The cost of dying for a dream is not worth it. Charlie was taken advantage of and he died because of it.
The worst thing that could have happened to Charlie did happen because of this operation. Charlie not only lost his intelligence but he lost everything he had worked for before the surgery. Would you like to be a poor person and then live wealthy for two months only to have it ripped away from you and be sent back to the streets? If you were offered an all inclusive dream trip to Hawaii, airfare, hotels, food, everything covered, but you knew on your way home that the plane would crash, would you go?