Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes
Central Questions
• Does intelligence hold the
key to happiness or peace of
• What would happen if it was
possible to artificially
increase someone’s
“How strange it is that people of honest
feelings and sensibility, who would not
take advantage of a man born without
arms or legs or eyes – how such people
think nothing of abusing a man born
with low intelligence.”
Daniel Keyes
• Daniel Keyes is a resident of Southern
Florida. Born in New York, he joined the U.S.
Maritime Service at seventeen and went to
sea as ship's purser. After Keyes left the sea,
he resumed his studies at Brooklyn College
where he received his B.A. Degree in
• He has been employed as an associate fiction
editor, a fashion photographer, and school
teacher, and a Professor of English and
American literature Ohio University.
• Keyes' award-winning first novel Flowers for
Algernon was published in 1966 and has
never gone out of print. It has been widely
translated and is studied in schools and
colleges around the world.
Anticipation Guide – Do You Agree or Disagree?
1. Intelligence makes a person more likeable.
2. Mentally handicapped people cannot hold a job.
3. A real friend is someone who would never make fun of
4. Rats are smart animals.
5. The more you read the smarter you become.
6. A person’s IQ tells how much knowledge a person has.
7. The more intelligence a person has, the less worries they
8. Surgery can fix almost any problem these days.
9. People should be paid based on their IQ rather than
how well they do their job.
10. Animal testing is okay as long as the animal doesn’t die.
11. If money wasn’t an issue, I would have an operation to
change something I don’t like about myself.
Parts of the Brain
• Frontal Lobe- associated
with reasoning, planning,
parts of speech, movement,
emotions, and problem
• Parietal Lobe- associated
with movement, orientation,
recognition, perception of
• Occipital Lobe- associated
with visual processing
• Temporal Lobe- associated
with perception and
recognition of auditory
stimuli, memory, and speech
Brain Scans
Rorschach Test
analyzing a
based on
Rorschach Test
Rorschach Test
Can you say Irish Wristwatch fast…..
Take a look at the
following inkblots and
write down what you see.
Rorschach Test – Wasted Ink??
“It looks like two dinosaurs with
huge heads and tiny bodies.
They’re moving away from each
other but looking back. The black
blob in the middle reminds me of
a spaceship.”
Once deemed an “x-ray of the mind,” the Rorschach inkblot test remains the
most famous—and infamous—personality test. An examiner hands ten inkblots
one at a time to a viewer, who says what each blot resembles. Five blots contain
color; five are black and gray. Responses to the inkblots are suppose to reveal a
person’s personality and mental health. Advocates believe, for instance, that
references to moving animals—such as the dinosaurs mentioned above—often
indicate impulsiveness, whereas allusions to a blot’s “blackness”—as in the
spaceship—often indicate depression. Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach
debuted the test in 1921 and it became very popular by 1945. The test has been
criticized because researchers found that psychologists often interpreted the
same responses differently. Even though the results might be questionable, the
test is still used by today’s psychologists.
Thematic Apperception Test
The TAT is a personality test. The subject
looks at a series of 30 pictures and is asked
to make up a dramatic story for each one,
• what has led up to the event shown
• what is happening at the moment
• what the characters are feeling and
thinking, and
• what the outcome of the story was.
Sample TAT
What has lead up to the event?
What is happening?
What are the characters feeling?
What is the outcome?
Verbal Rorschach Test
Answer “yes” or “no” to the
following statements.
I salivate (mouth
waters) at the sight of
My father was
a good woman.
I often lie to make
myself obnoxious.
I prefer spiders to
lima beans.
Chiclets make me
Boredom excites me.
Eggplants make me
Weeping brings tears
to my eyes.
I believe I smell as
good as most people.
Halitosis is part
of my style.
I would never tell my
nickname in a crisis.
I always let people get
ahead of me at
swimming pools.
Santa rarely answers
my letters.
Sitting in the glove
compartment makes
me claustrophobic.
It is hard for me to find the
right thing to say when I am
sitting in a room full of
I am tired of being
elected President.
I believe in
I have an uncontrollable
urge to touch people’s
The three greatest men
who ever lived were
Eleanor Roosevelt.
When I look down
from a high place,
I want to spit.
Most of the time I go to
sleep without saying
impair – to make or cause to become worse
absurd – obviously senseless, laughably foolish
vacuous – lacking in ideas or intelligence, empty
introspective – examining one’s own mind and
hypothesis – a possibility, theory, educated guess
opportunist – one who takes advantage of an
opportunity without regard for anyone’s feelings
or consequences
regression – a return to a less-perfect state.
shrew – an animal resembling a mouse but having a
long pointed snout and small eyes and ears.
psychology - The science that deals with mental
processes and behavior
Match each vocabulary word to the correct picture.
Major Characters
Charlie Gordon
Alice Kinnian
Fay Lillman
Rose Gordon
Matt Gordon
Norman Gordon
Harold Nemur
Jay Strauss
Will you take the “smart drugs”?
• What personal goals could you achieve by
becoming a genius?
• What drawbacks might there be to
becoming a genius in such a short time?
• How might others including your friends,
family and schoolmates react to your new
• Can you think of anyone famous who is a
genius? Would you want to take their
place? Why or why not?
• Irony is the contrast between the way things
seem and the way they really are.
• In situational irony a character expects one
outcome but the opposite occurs.
• In dramatic irony the reader or audience has
important information that the character
does not have.
• What is your opinion of the experiment? Be
specific with the pros and cons.
Advantage or Disadvantage??
Having “super
Have little or no
Charlie pre-surgery
with little
Charlie postsurgery with “super
Create A Venn Diagram
Charlie Before
Charlie After
Rewrite these excerpts, correctly using appropriate
punctuation marks in the appropriate places.
“You got to mix them up, she showed? me” how.
to mix! them) up,. and now; I can! mix up all
kinds” of punctuation, in writing? There, are
lots! Of rules? to learn; but im getting’g them in
my head.
One thing I? Like about, Dear Miss Kinnian:
(that’s the way it goes in a business letter if I ever
go into business) is she, always gives me’ a
reason” when—I ask. She’s a gen’ius! I wish I
cou’d be smart” like, her; (Punctuation, is; fun!)”
True or False?
1. _____ Charlie does not understand the purpose of the “Raw Shok” test.
2. _____ Charlie is a hard worker and is conscience about how he performs.
3. _____ Both scientists thoroughly agree to select Charlie for the operation.
4. _____ Charlie is not scared about the operation.
5. _____ After surgery, the change is immediate.
6. _____ Algernon had the same procedure as Charlie.
7. _____ Charlie’s friends at work are excited about the “change” in Charlie.
8. _____ Before the surgery, Charlie was unaware of the cruelty he faced.
9. _____ Charlie is aware of his deterioration after the surgery.
10. _____ Charlie becomes a genius at one point.
11. _____ At the story’s end, Charlie has kept most of his “genius” status.
12. _____ Charlie feels sorry for himself and wants others to feel sorry, as well.
13. _____ Charlie remembers being a genius.
14. _____ Charlie regresses back to his “old” self.
Final Questions
1. How did having little or no intelligence affect Charlie’s feelings,
emotions, and perceptions?
2. Why did Miss Kinnian feel that Charlie was the best candidate for
the operation?
3. Why were Charlie and Algernon subjected to the same tests?
4. How did the operation affect Charlie’s intelligence and his
5. How did the operation affect Charlie’s relationship with people
surrounding him?
6. How did the doctors know that the operation was not going to be
permanently successful?
7. Why might an intelligence-altering operation be unethical or risky?
8. Why did the doctors not want Charlie to see Algernon after the
9. How did Charlie’s friends react to his becoming smarter?
10. How was knowing what the outcome would be difficult for Charlie?
The Movie Version
• Cliff Robertson won an
"Oscar" for his performance
in the movie version of
Flowers for Algernon,