Flowers for Algernon – Qualities That Surpass Intelligence Essay
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Flowers for Algernon, is a classic novel written by Daniel Keyes a young mentally challenged man named Charlie Gordon. This book chronicles, from a first person point of view, Charlie’s mental and physical struggles and achievements after undergoing a breakthrough procedure that is hoped to render him intelligent. Throughout the book, much of the focus is on Charlie’s academic progress while his emotional and personal development is not much of a concern. This becomes a problem because Charlie realizes that it is important to demonstrate qualities other than intelligence to lead a life that is oth happy and successful.
Qualities shown to be more important than intelligence in Flowers for Algernon are: patience, kindness and respect. Throughout Flowers for Algernon, patience is often shown to be a more important quality in character than intelligence. Starting from the beginning when Charlie was still mentally challenged, people never seemed to be patient with him. If they had taken the time to get to know and understand him they would have seen that he had a good heart and genuine personality. This also applies to our everyday life.
We must be patient and try to understand others before we begin to judge them. Charlie also demonstrated the negative consequences of a lack of patience when his intelligence began to surpass that of those around him, “I was afraid it would come to this, but I have no patience with her now. I’m jealous of every moment away from the work- impatient with anyone…”(Keyes 295). You can clearly see that due to his lack of patience with anyone around him, he is in a state of upset and distress. That is how patience is shown to be more important than ntelligence in this novel.
Kindness is another quality shown to surpass intelligence in order of importance in Flowers for Algernon. Simply being kind to others can get you far in life and change others views and opinions of you in a positive way. This is shown when Alice tells Charlie what made him such a great person before he had the operation, “There was something in you before. I don’t know… a warmth, an openness, a kindness that made everyone like you and like to have you around. ” (Keyes 122). Being kind makes both yourself and others feels good.
While everyone may not be able to solve an algebraic equation or understand Shakespeare, we can all interpret, accept and appreciate kindness in all its forms. This is why kindness is shown to be a more valuable quality than intelligence in Flowers for Algernon. A third quality shown to be more important than intelligence in Flowers for Algernon is respect. Everyone wants to be valued and respected and when you behave in this way towards others, it is often reciprocated. Everyone should learn to respect each other for who they are and not try to change them.
Each person is an individual with their own thoughts and feelings and we can not change them. In the novel, a bakery employee stresses the importance of respect when the other workers make fun of Charlie, “He can’t help what he is… but for God’s sake, have some respect! He’s a human being! ” (Keyes 199). Charlie also often feels that he is not being respected as a human being and that he is just being treated as an experiment. This has a negative impact on him and also demonstrates the importance of respect.
Those are the ways that respect is shown to be a ore valuable quality than intelligence in this novel. If one looks between the lines in the novel Flowers for Algernon, they will interpret many messages and take away valuable lessons from it. One of which is that there are qualities that are much more valuable and important than intelligence. The qualities that are shown to be more important than intelligence in Flowers for Algernon are patience, kindness and respect. By possessing and utilizing these qualities a person can lead both a happy and successful life and better the lives of those around them.