Free Study Guide: Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes|
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FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON: LITERARY CRITICISM / ANALYSIS
Now, Charlie is thrown back on his own resources, and has to find his
own way in the outside world. He does this with courage, struggles with
his changing identity and two love affairs, and decides to devote himself
to finding out the errors in the surgery carried out on him and Algernon.
By the end of the book, Charlie has found his answer and is now faced
with the possibility of his regression, which he accepts with great dignity.
At the end, the old retarded Charlie is back, but he has retained his
guts and his self-respect.
The novel uses the technique of first person narrative. This, against the narratorís background of retardation, makes the novel technically complex and rich. One can see peopleís changing perceptions of him and his of the people around him. His world enlarges as his mind develops. Long-suppressed memories of his traumatic childhood and adolescence emerge from the mists, and this is intermittent, and in the stream-of-consciousness mode. Thus, small incidents in the present trigger-off childhood memories of his family, which are sometimes pleasant, but are most often, frightening. His parents quarreling over him, things he was forbidden to do, his sisterís tantrums, and his motherís hysterical and cruel rejection of him - these are the subject matters of vivid and dream like scenes of his past, which the author inserts into his present life. These scenes then link up with his present actions and problems and help to explain them, not only to the reader, but also to the protagonist himself. That all this is done without interference by an omniscient author makes it far more effective. It also has a structure, which lends itself to easy adaptation for cinema, which was in fact done.
Another important feature of the style is the Project Report format. The arrangement
of chapters presented as Reports by Charlie to the research team allows
for interesting variations in length and complexity as the Narratorís
intelligence slowly expands, and later shrinks. The ideas and the language
used also reflect these changes.
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. 09 May 2017