Charlie Gordon's Character: Before and After His Intelligence Increase

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Flowers for Algernon


Comparing Charlie Before and After in Flowers for Algernon

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Activity Overview


As the novel progresses, there is a remarkable difference not only in Charlie’s style of writing before and after the procedure begins to take effect, but also in the ways that he thinks about and views the world around him. Have students find quotes from the novel that illustrate the changes in Charlie for the topics below, before and after his intelligence increase. They can then use the Storyboard Creator to illustrate these comparisons.


Charlie’s Impression of Himself

  • Before: “Prof Nemur said but why did you want to lern to reed and spell in the first place. I tolld him because all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb and my mom always tolld me to try and lern just like Miss Kinnian tells me but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something in Miss Kinnians class at the school I ferget alot.”
  • After: “‘What did you expect? Did you think I’d remain a docile pup, wagging my tail and licking the foot that kicks me? Sure, all this has changed me and the way I think about myself. I no longer have to take the kind of crap that people have been handing me all my life.’”

Spelling and Grammar

  • Before: “I tolld dr Strauss and perfesser Nemur I cant rite good but he says it dont matter he says I shud rite just like I talk and like I rite compushishens in Miss Kinnians class and the beekmin collidge center for retarded adults where I go to lern 3 times a week on my time off.”
  • After: “What a dope I am! I didn’t even understand what she was talking about. I read the grammar book last night and it explains the whole thing… After I figured out how punctuation worked, I read over all my old progress reports from the beginning. Boy, did I have crazy spelling and punctuation!”

Charlie’s Impression of His Doctors

  • Before: “Dr. Strauss said I had something that was very good. He said I had a good motor-vation. I never even knowed I had that. I felt good when he said not everbody with an eye-Q of 68 had that thing like I had it.”
  • After: “It’s paradoxical that an ordinary man like Nemur presumes to devote himself to making other people geniuses… I guess Nemur’s fear of being revealed as a man walking on stilts among giants is understandable. Failure at this point would destroy him… As shocking as it is to discover the truth about the men I had respected and looked up to, I guess Burt is right. I must not be too impatient with them. Their ideas and brilliant work made the experiment possible. I’ve got to guard against the natural tendency to look down on them now that I have surpassed them.”

Charlie’s Perspective of Miss Kinnian

  • Before: “One thing? I, like: about, Dear Miss Kinnian: (thats, the way? it goes; in a business, letter (if I ever go! into business?) is that, she: always, gives me’ a reason” when-- I ask. She”s a gen’ius! I wish? I cou’d be smart-like-her;”
  • After: “Why haven’t I ever noticed how beautiful Alice Kinnian is? She has pigeon-soft brown eyes and feathery brown hair down to the hollow of her neck. When she smiles, her full lips look as if she’s pouting.”

Treatment by the World

  • Before: “We had a lot of fun at the bakery today. Joe Carp said hey look where Charlie had his operashun what did they do Charlie put some brains in. I was going to tell him about me getting smart but I remembered Prof Nemur said no. Then Frank Reilly said what did you do Charlie open a door the hard way. That made me laff. Their my friends and they really like me.”
  • After: “I never knew before that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around just to make fun of me. Now I know what they mean when they say to pull a Charlie Gordon.’ I’m ashamed.”


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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard illustrating Charlie's character before and after the procedure. Use quotes and illustrations to back up your findings.

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. In the left column, identify the characteristics or things that change in Charlie.
  3. In one example column, provide a quote for how Charlie was before.
  4. In the other example column, provide a quote for how Charlie was after.
  5. Illustrate each example with appropriate characters, scenes, and items.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard.
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