Flowers for Algernon is a haunting elegy to diminishing intellect.
<b>PICTURE</b> DANIEL KEYES
Would you want to know heaven for a day, knowing you had to give it up?
Charlie Gordon has an IQ of 68. He attends a special school for mentally disabled adults. He struggles to spell and write, and evinces a child-like simplicity in how he views the world.
Still, Charlie understands that he has difficulties where others do not. More than anything, he wants to be smart.
Flowers for Algernon is an epistolary short story told from Charlie’s perspective, as his hobbled prose eventually blossoms into the lucid writings of a genius with an IQ of over 180, the result of an experimental surgical procedure to boost intelligence.
But the boost is only temporary, and over time, Charlie regresses. His writing also deteriorates, gradually becoming more incoherent as his mental faculties erode. Painfully aware of what is happening, Charlie’s letters take on a plaintive tone, and you experience intimately the horror of what it’s like to feel your mind slipping away.
Alternatively a study in dementia and mental disability, Flowers for Algernon is more than anything an exploration of how the limits of our minds circumscribe the extent of our prisons.