Flowers for Algernon Essay Questions

Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

'Flowers for Algernon' is a thought-provoking story that encourages students to consider how a drastic change to a person's life can have an extensive impact on society. Use these essay questions to spur your students' interaction with the story.

Before the Surgery Essay Questions

1) In the beginning of Flowers for Algernon, we read that Charlie challenges and beats Algernon at the maze. How does this prepare us for the obstacles Charlie will have after he changes? How does the maze scenario match Charlie's journey?

2) Charlie was disconnected from his family and was basically alone in the world. How did this likely affect his behavior and willingness to participate in the operation? How did this affect the decision of Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur when considering Charlie for the surgery?

3) Charlie had many child-like qualities because of his mental disabilities. Yet, he wanted more from life. Which of Charlie's characteristics made him a good candidate for the surgery? Why were those characteristics important?

4) What was Charlie's motivation for participating in the study? When looking at the options, what were the reasons for Charlie to do the operation? What were the reasons Charlie should not have done the surgery?

5) Think about Alice and her connection to Charlie. What role did Alice play in Charlie's life? What impact did she have in his decision to participate in the study? If she had discouraged him, how would that have changed his decision and the outcome of the story?

After the Surgery Essay Questions

1) How did Charlie's first-person perspective change after he had the surgery? How did that affect your relationship to Charlie? In what ways was this an effective writing method?

2) Explain the impact Charlie's relationship with his mother had on him. In what ways did it make his life more difficult? In what ways did she have a positive impact on Charlie?

3) Discuss which parts of Charlie were lost through the experiment. How did he change? In what ways was he better after the surgery? In what ways was he worse off after the surgery?

4) Explore Charlie's work situation before and after the surgery. How did he fit the work before the surgery and how did he not fit the job after? How did his higher intelligence affect his co-workers and his work environment?

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