Flowers for Algernon

"Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes

It's is in the form of diary entries, dated "martch 5, 1965" to July 28, of Charlie Gordon, 37, mentally feeble at the beginning of the story & a janitor at "Donnegan's Plastic Box Company."


Over the course of the story, a new experimental surgery will transform him into a genius; & then a mental decay back to old state & almost certain death (as a side effect of surgery). He is writing diary at the insistence of Dr Strauss, neurosurgeon who performed the surgery. He is free to write whatever comes to mind.

The story is not really about surgery or what goes into making a supermind. It's about human issues - Charlie getting routinely mistreated by those he trusts; then recognizing this & getting bugged by it; then lapsing again & seeking company of those old "friends" - only the friends have also changed for the better.

Access Code: CF87DF1104
Notes and assignments are available for download at the bottom of the page.

Measuring Intelligence

Measuring Intelligence and Personality:

The Rorschach Inkblot Test
In the story "Flowers for Algernon" the main character, Charlie Gordon, had to take a Rorschach test. This test is more commonly known as the inkblot test. The Rorschach Test was developed by a Swiss psychiatrist named Hermann Rorschach. This test was designed to determine personality traits by interpreting a subject's responses to inkblot images.

Intelligence Tests

At one point in the story, Charlie overhears Dr. Nemur, Dr. Strauss, and Burt the tester discussing what "IQ" really means. Each of them had a completely different definition.  Defining intelligence is still a controversy. People have varying ideas on intelligence and on how it can (or should be) tested. 


The IQ Test
Some believe that an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) indicates a person's mental abilities relative to others of approximately the same age. A score of 100 means that compared to these people in your general age group that you have basically an average intelligence. Most psychologists would say those scoring in a range of 95 to 105 are of a normal intelligence or have an average IQ. Actual IQ score may vary plus or minus five points since it is very difficult to get an IQ score with complete accuracy. Everyone has hundreds of specific mental abilities--some can be measured accurately and are reliable predictors of academic and financial success.
Others believe that our intelligence or ability to understand the world around us is complex. Some people are better at understanding some things than others. For some of us it is relatively easy to understand how a flower grows but it is immensely difficult for us to understand and use a musical instrument. For others music might be easy but playing football is difficult. Instead of having one intelligence it is claimed that we have several different intelligences.

The Multiple Intelligences


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