The basic situation of this story is that Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur have created an experiment with a mouse and want to try it on a human being. They choose Charlie Gordon, a 37 year old man with low intelligence (672), to have a specific brain operation to see if he could be made more intelligent."Ms. Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart" (672)."I told them becaus all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb. But its very hard to be smart. (674)."he has a good natcher hes intristed and eager to please " (675).
Charlie wants to become smarter. He volunteers to be a test subject for Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur's intelligence experiment. The doctors decide if they feel Charlie is a suitable candidate for their experiment. 1. "I hope they use me. Miss Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart" (672).2. "The doctors said that Miss Kinnian told them that Charlie was her best pupil in the adult learning class because he put in the most effort and wanted to learn" (673).3. "I told them becaus all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb" (674).4. "That shows intenss motorvation. Its comparat** a tremen** achev** I say we use Charlie" (676).All three of the examples above show how much Charlie wanted to be smarter. He wants to learn to read and spell well. In order to do this, he asked people around him where he could find a class for this, and he enrolled himself in the adult night school program. The doctors told Charlie the results might be temporary. He said this was discussed with Miss Kinnian and he was still very eager to be the person selected for this. He is willing to do this, even if it causes him pain. His eagerness borders on desperation. He wants more than anything to be smart like the people around him. The doctors debate whether or not Charlie should participate because he doesn't do well with their inkblot tests and he has a very low IQ of only 68. However, based upon Miss Kinnian's recommendation, they decide that he is a good candidate.
Charlie has the operation and becomes extremely intelligent. He is the first human being to have his intelligence tripled by having this surgery. Charlie was given a "television"(679) after the surgery that he was to have on all night long. This is to help him become smarter while he sleeps. It talks and shows pictures. This is explained to Charlie that it's helping his subconscious to learn by the doctors.1. "He says my brains are lerning when I sleep and that will help me when Miss Kinnian starts my lessons in the hospitl" (681).Miss Kinnian teaches Charlie history, geography and arithmetic as well as reading and spelling. She also suggests that he learn a few foreign languages. Charlie is still playing the tapes that are given to him by Dr. Strauss. In about five weeks time, Charlie is learning so quickly that Dr. Strauss suggests that his I.Q. will be over 200 soon.2. "I was shocked to learn that the only ancient languages that he could read were Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and that he knows almost nothing of mathematics beyond the elementary levels of the calculus of variations" (698)Dr. Nemur is uncomfortable around Charlie now because he has become smarter than him. When Charlie tries to talk with the doctor, he gets angry and walks away. Dr. Strauss has explained that Charlie is giving him an inferiority complex because Charlie is now more knowledgeable than the doctor is, who went to college.3. "How was I to know that a highly respected psychoexperimentalist like Nemur was unacquainted with Hindustani and Chinese" (699)?Charlie's intelligence soon surpasses even Miss Kinnian. He has to put in extra effort to keep conversations with her on a simple, everyday level because she gets lost trying to follow his thinking on the higher subjects.4. "When I tried to explain she stopped me and laughed. I guess I got angry, but I suspect I'm approaching her on the wrong level" (699)
Algernon's deterioration starts when he bit Charlie. The mouse isn't doing what the doctors want him to do and he won't run through the maze and doesn't eat anymore (703). The regression of Algernon's behavior is alarming to the doctors because the mouse and Charlie had the same operation. The concern is serious because they both gained intelligence at the same speed, so the fear is that Charlie will lose it just as quickly as Algernon did. This inspires Charlie to find out if the same thing will happen to him.Charlie creates a formula and does mathematical analysis to determine if or when his own increased intelligence will fail also. Once he reviews all the data and notes, he writes a paper to be published about "The Algernon-Gordon Effect". It is through this thorough scientific investigation that he comes to the conclusion that "Artificially increased intelligence deteriorates at a rate of time directly proportional to the quantity of the increase"(705). Charlie's intelligence will fade as quickly as he gained it. He is very sad that he will lose the abilities he has gained: to read German, understand foreign languages, or enjoy Paradise Lost. Charlie doesn't want to go back to the way he was. Charlie wants to remember all he's learned. He is losing motor function as well as his intelligence and is becoming clumsy again."It's slipping away like sand through my fingers. Most of the books I have are too hard for me now. I get angry with them because I know that I read and understood them just a few weeks ago" (707).The picture above represents the intelligence that Charlie is losing. The empty spots on the bookcases are pieces that he's already lost, while the red books are the ones he can no longer read or understand.
Charlie goes back to the factory to get his janitor's job again. He tells Mr. Donnegan about what happened to him. Being sympathetic, Mr. Donnegan gave him his job. "he looked very sad and put his hand on my shoulder and said Charlie Gordon you got guts" (710).People looked at Charlie as he went about his job again. Probably because they were surprised to see him, others because they had heard about what Joe and Frank had said about Charlie. This time though, both men turned out to actually be his friends because they stand up for him when another co-worker makes a nasty remark to Charlie. He's very surprised by this, almost to tears, and realizes that they are decent friends to him now.He shows up at Miss Kinnian's class not remembering he wasn't part of the group anymore. After he takes a seat, he realizes he doesn't have his reading book. The teacher sees Charlie and runs out of the room in tears. He has a memory of the operation and realizes that he's not part of the class anymore."I said holy smoke I reely pulled a Charlie Gordon that time. I went away before she come back to the room" (711)After this incident, he decides to leave New York (711). Charlie doesn't want to have an accident like this again. Leaving New York would ensure that it won't happen again because he will go away where no one knows he was once a genius. He will take a few books, his rabbit's foot and lucky penny in hopes they will help him. The journals he leaves behind hoping that Miss Kinnian will find these. And maybe, just maybe, she will put some flowers on Algernon's grave . . . .
Just because we can change something, does that mean we should.In this story, Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur are playing God with Charlie because they surgically increase his intelligence. Before the surgery is performed, Charlie is happy with his janitorial job at the factory because he is appreciated by his boss for being such a great employee (682). He feels he is also well-liked by his co-workers and friends. Charlie has a place of his own in a boarding house and is living independently. After the surgery increases his intelligence, he becomes aware of how the people at the factory really think of him. He realizes that people have been making fun of him all the time and he is embarrassed because he was unaware of it. Also, he isn't supposed to tell people about the kind of surgery he has had, so when he becomes smarter and people can't figure out how he became so smart in such a short time, they are suspicious of it. Even though the surgery has allowed Charlie to become smarter, it hasn't bettered his life because he is forced to quit his job when a petition is started.1. "Who knows what you done to yourself to get so smart all of a sudden. Like everybody around here's been saying, Charlie, it's not right" (697).As Charlie realizes that he is going to regress to his previous intelligence level, he is sad that he will be losing his gained intelligence. He also realizes that the artificial intelligence he has gained, isn't going to help him in the future. All will be lost, and now he has no job, no income, and could possibly lose his room at the boarding house. Especially after he creates the Algernon-Gordon Effect paper and knows he will the intelligence as quickly as he received it.2. "the surgical technique developed by Drs. Strauss and Nemur must be viewed as having little or no practical applicability (at the present time) to the increase of human intelligence"(705).