Sometimes the world can be so cruel. How many memories do we have of kids in a school yard mercilessly teasing and mocking those who are different or imperfect? Maybe adults are just as bad. Maybe worse. That realization came to me while reading Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
Keyes ingeniously displays a journal written by a mentally retarded man named Charlie. Charlie was chosen to take part in a scientific experiment which would increase his intellegence to a level beyond human comprehension. Charlie began writing the journal a few weeks prior to the operation and continued for several months after, revealing his incredible progress.
Daniel Keyes’ method of gradually transitioning from the mind of a “moron” to the mind of a genius was nothing less than brilliant. The story begin in a lighthearted and humorous manner, making me laugh at the silly things Charlie did and said. But then Charlie became smart. And with that intellegence came a painful awareness. When he reviewed the earlier pages of his journal, he realized that all his life people had been laughing at him. He was hurt and I had to reread the pages that made me giggle earlier. I found they weren’t funny anymore.
Charlie’s story was sad because the situation was very real. Just by reading it, I became overwhelmed by the guilt of the attitudes and fears of my own world. Why are people so afraid of what is different? Maybe making fun is our way of understanding these imperfections.
“Its easy to have frends if you let pepul laff at you” was Charlie’s way of understanding “normal” people. And forgiving them.