I thought Flowers for Algernon was going to be a feel good story: Idiot gets experimented on by scientists for intelligence-enhancing formula, triumphs his life’s biggest hurdle, and lives happily ever after. But I wouldn’t have wanted to get involved with something like that since reading an entire novel nowadays takes up a lot of time and if I wanted to experience a heart-warming tale about the triumph of the human spirit, I’d watch Mean Girls.
So I went to the last few pages and found out that Charly, the hero, would eventually return to his original mental state evidenced by his once again faulty spelling and sentence construction. Also, I have had it with Winston Groom/Forrest Gump-like novels that read like they were written by 4-year olds. Charly’s return to kindergarten composition confirms this isn’t going to be predictably feel-good although I don’t have anything against feeling good.
Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon is a sad book, which is just my type. The most devastating part happens at the mental institution that Charly visits, where he checks for himself his future home, populated by drooling hopeless cases, his future roommates, where his foreseeable mental decline would deliver him to. It’s like Mylene Dizon in the film 100 scouting for her own coffin’s price tag. He later gets Charly to bring flowers to Algernon the rat’s grave since they both are the experiment’s test subjects and they have bonded deeply. Are you sad yet?
If you think about it, Charly Gordon have had it easy. He was born stupid so he dies stupid. Science may have lent him intelligence but in the end, he’s still going to struggle because the scientists aren’t complete geniuses themselves. I say easy because with Charly’s level of stupidity, people are wont to be upfront about it. Sad, sad, sad.