Flowers for Algernon
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. What is the significance of Charlie’s relationship to Fay? How does he feel about her? What role does their relationship play in his development?
2. Do you think that Charlie’s writings as a mentally disabled man at the beginning and end of the novel accurately represent the way a disabled person genuinely might write? Defend your answer, and explain why you think these passages are written as they are.
3. What is the role of memory in the novel? How do Charlie’s flashbacks further the general themes of the novel?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does the diary or journal-entry form of the novel affect the emphasis of the narrative? Is Charlie dependable as a narrator as he progresses through his various stages? Is Charlie capable of providing insight into the other characters, or is he too preoccupied with himself?
2. How has Charlie changed at the end of the novel? Is he different from the person he is at the beginning of the novel, and if so, how? Do you consider the novel’s ending to be tragic or inspiring?
3. Does the novel make a definitive statement about the role of intelligence in human life, or does it simply explore this idea as an open-ended question?
4. Compare and contrast the characters of Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss. How do their reactions to Charlie’s intelligence differ? How do their approaches to science differ?
5. How does Algernon function as an alter ego for Charlie? How does Algernon’s condition represent Charlie’s condition?
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