Guest written by Elise Soto
For sci-fi July we read Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes which was Published in 1959. We all agreed that while this was technically Syfy it ended up being more of an existential read. It brought up a lot of emotions and thoughts about what it means to be intelligent and that being smart doesn’t always mean you’re capable of relating to those around you.
We talked a lot about the different types of intelligence as well. While Charlie became smarter after the surgery it couldn’t speed up his emotional maturity. Things like love and sex and interpersonal relationships are the things you have to sort of grow through. One of the saddest parts of the book was learning along with Charlie that he would never be able catch up. He simply didn’t have enough time.
We also found it interesting that out of all of the people he could have told the truth to, he chose not to tell his father. His father was the one person that supported him when he was younger, that stood up for him. It almost seemed like Charlie wasn’t willing to risk the memory of his relationship with his father by revealing himself. We all felt like it was a real missed opportunity. Isn’t that the way of life sometimes though? Fear can be a real hindrance.
In the end, we all agreed it was probably in Charlie‘s best interest not to have had the surgery at all. Before the surgery Charlie was happy, he had friends and a job that gave him purpose. After the surgery he questioned everything, he lost his sense of purpose and the people closest to him. So, was the surgery really worth it? While it all seemed to come back full circle in the end, none of us really felt it was worth the journey for him. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do that thing.