English Note

Flowers For Algernon|Classic Sci-Fi novel by Daniel Keyes|Theme: Intelligence and Humanity

(8, January, 2023)

This article is about;
Flowers For Algernon, a famous Sci-Fi novel by Daniel Keyes.
・You will know its plot, main characters and how good it is to read for English learners.
My conclusion is; It is recommended for Intermediate English learners to read for Vocabuilding.


I’ve read a famous classic Sci-Fi novel, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I am Japanese, learning English as a second language, an intermediate learner. I thought it was good reading experience and recommended in terms of vocabuilding.

In this article, information about Flowers For Algernon is brought to you; its plot, main characters and how good it is to read for English learners. Don’t miss it.

2.Book information of Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Here’s basic information of the book.

Title Flowers for Algernon
Author Daniel Keyes
Nationality USA
Genre SF
Publisher Harcourt, Brace & World
Published in 1966
Total Pages 311
Total Words 83,309

Reference: Wikipedia, Flowers for Algernon


The main character, Charlie Gordon, 32 years old, has intellectual disability, and is working in a bakery shop. He envies smart people and is willing to go to school for retarded, wishing to be smarter by working hard. One day, his teacher, Alice, recommends him to have a special brain surgery for intellectual development, which is the very first cast to be applied on humans.

A mouse named Algernon has successfully had the surgery in advance, as it gets smarter than Charlie. Charlie cannot beat Algernon in IQ tests, mazes and games. He decides to undergo the brain surgery from his pure curiosity for being smarter, the first time in the world.

Operation succeeds as Charlie gets gradually smarter, beating Algernon in tests. However, as he knows more complicated things, he realises unnecessary things; finding evil things behind his good past memories, getting even smarter than professors and he starts to look down on them etc.

His intellectual development is much faster than his mental development. Charlie suffers from the unbalanceness as he fails love affairs too in his private life. Algernon also suffers from the same unbalanceness as Charlie, and gradually gets ill mentally.
What is the fate, waiting for two of them, who had the same brain surgery, suffering from the same problem?

・Main Characters

Charlie Gordon:Main charcter, retarded 32 years old man.
Algernon:Intelligent lab mouse, had a special brain surgery.
Alice Kinnian:Teacher in school for retarded.
Professor Harold Nemur:Scientist who developped intelligence-enhancing surgery.
Doctor Jay Strauss:Scientist/Psychocerapist who operated intelligence-enhancing surgery.
Burt Seldon:Assistant
Arthur Donner:Manager of the bakery, where Charlie is working for.
Charlie’s friends in Bakery: Gimpy, Joe Carp, Frank Reilly, Fanny Birden, Bernie Bate
Fay Lillman:Female artist.
Matt Gordon:Charlie’s father
Rose Gordon:Charlie’s mother
Norma Gordon:Charlie’s younger sister

3.My review and impression of Flowers For Algernon; recommended for Intermediate English Learners

I enjoyed reading Flowers For Algernon. When I was a junior high school student, I read this book in Japanese translation. At that time, I could not understand the whole story and had difficulty understanding Charlie’s progress report in the first part and final part. However, now I am 37 years old and read this book again in English, and I’m happy to understand what this novel tells.

This book is a worldwide best seller, so the greatness of the story is assured that you will enjoy it. As this novel’s formula is in Writing by the main character, Charlie, who were retarded at first and had brain surgery as he gets smarter by it, sentences start with many spelling mistakes, which makes it difficult to read forward. As his intelligence develops, sentences involve abstract, complicated concepts which are also difficult to understand to some extent.

So Flowers For Algernon can be recommended for Intermediate English Learners; with TOEIC score of around 750-for beginners, it may be a little bit difficult.
It is 4 star(among 5) recommendation in Tadoku point of view-Tadoku is a Japanese term, meaning learning English by ‘reading a lot’. It is a worldwide best seller, so it is guaranteed that you will never regret reading it.


This article provides information about Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes; Plot, Main Characters and my review/impression. Its main theme is ‘Humanity, love’ without which intelligence means nothing. My favorite scene is that Charlie goes back home to meet his family, refreshing his memory and relationship.
Release of this title is 1966, yet it still has a fresh message in modern times. And it is a worldwide big hit, so if you have never read it, you should try it.

View Book Information at Charter 2



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