Symbols and Motifs in Flowers for Algernon

Symbols and Motifs in Flowers for Algernon
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Flowers for Algernon Lesson Plans

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

Flowers for Algernon is a touching story about a man named Charlie, chosen for an experiment that offers him the opportunity to become “smart”, his deepest wish in life. The novel brings up several important themes and questions, including the ethics of human experimentation, the mistreatment of the mentally disabled in society, and the relationship between intellect and human interactions.

Flowers for Algernon

Storyboard Description

Flowers for Algernon themes Symbols and Motifs

Storyboard Text

  • Algernon represents the intelligence that Charlie is striving for, along with the loss of that hope as he regresses. Charlie feels trapped like Algernon because neither of them are viewed as individuals, just part of the experiment.
  • The Other Charlie represents New Charlie's hesitation and fear of emotional attachments. He represents New Charlie's attempts to reconcile his new-found intelligence and superiority with his former naivete and humility.
  • The inkblots first represent failure for Charlie, and later his first sense of inner self-awareness. He questions why anyone would make up lies for a test. Towards the end, it represents Charlie's final participation in the experiment, and his refusal to be a science project any more.
  • The flowers represent Charlie's wish for him and Algernon to be remembered, Even though the experiment will be deemed a failure, for Charlie and Algernon, it was a unique and special experience, which in Charlie's mind makes it a success.
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