Charlie Gordon is the main character of Flowers for Algernon. Charlie is a mentally retarded, 33 year old adult. He desperately wants to be smart, especially after a very troubled childhood in a family who had a hard time adapting to his illness. Charlie has a great attitude about changing his life, and was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish the task of becoming smart. Charlie partakes in a surgery to boost his intelligence that has only been tested on rats, specifically one named Algernon. After the surgery Charlie learned that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and that many of his old friends wouldn't see the same person in him.
Charlie suddenly had to experience drastic changes in his lifestyle and the story revolves around these complications. Charlie's story began with the surgery, the biggest decision he made in his life. Although he was a guinea pig in the procedure, he wasn't worried at all about the surgery, but rather on becoming smart as fast as he could. Supposedly these doctors were doing Charlie the greatest favor he would ever receive, and he was so eager to learn as much as he could. Soon however, Charlie would encounter challenges he never faced with the intelligence of a 6 year old. Before his surgery, Charlie had great friends in Miss Kinnian and the bakery workers.
After the surgery the relationships between Charlie and everyone he knew would take a drastic turn. A growing problem of Charlie's is his extremely mixed emotions toward the opposite sex. He starts a serious relationship with Alice Kinnian, his former teacher. Charlie begins to learn of how society treats the mentally retarded.
He realizes his old friends at the bakery just make fun of him. After watching the audience laugh at video of him before the operation, Charlie runs away from a mental health conference with Algernon after learning that his operation went wrong. Charlie does research on himself and learns that intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown. In many ways Charlie was better before the operation. With his simple minded approach to life e was able to live happily with out problems or difficulties that we face in relationships today. Although he was never smart, Charlie was a good person before the surgery.
"I am afraid. Not of life, or death, or nothingness, but of wasting it as if I had never been" pg 198. After Charlie knew that the effect of the surgery was reversed, he had a huge struggle with the fact that he would return to a state of nothing. It must be a hard thing to be as important to the world as Charlie was, in his experiment, knowing that soon you will be a nobody. Charlie Gordon would have been better off if he had not been the subject of the experiment..