Charlie Gordon's Flowers For Algernon

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Flowers for Algernon tells the story of Charlie Gordon, a man in his early thirties with the intellectual capacity of a young child. The narrative is expressed through his “progris riports.” Charlie writes these journal entries for an experiment in which researchers perform an operation on his brain. The procedure is intended to increase human intelligence. Professor Nemur, the head researcher, feels apprehensive about choosing him as the human test subject, because, as Charlie writes in one entry, “he will be the first human being ever to have his intelijence increesd by surgery” (Keyes 10). Nemur’s concerns relate primarily to a fear of failure and a subsequent loss of funding for his research rather than ethical concerns. However, as a handful…show more content…
One such individual is Francine, a woman who “had given birth to three children by the time she was eighteen, before her parents arranged for a hysterectomy. She wasn’t pretty […] but she had been an easy mark for dozens of men who bought her something pretty, or paid her way to the movies” (Keyes 121-122). Some people might have an issue with Francine’s behavior, because she has sexual relations without marriage and gives birth to multiple children out of wedlock. Such conduct is often considered immoral and socially offensive. This quote, however, takes Francine’s actions out of context to the rest of her life. Francine is a student at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults, which means that she is below “normal” intelligence standards. Like many of the other mentally handicapped people in Flowers for Algernon who are humored out of sympathy, exploited, or ridiculed, Francine is taken advantage of by the “dozens of men who bought her something pretty, or paid her way to the movies” (Keyes 121). People are bound to have different opinions on what is the “right” or socially acceptable way to treat someone of lower intelligence, but most would agree that such a person cannot provide proper consent to sexual activity. Thus, the behavior that Francine displays is not a fault of her own but that of the society in which she
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