An Invisible Factor influencing all human relationships

Looking back at the modern classic- “Flowers for Algernon”

Are you as kind a human being as you think you are?

“How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes — how such people think nothing of abusing a man with low intelligence.”

The book initially made me wonder if it was just villainising everyone to create a sob-story about the emotional pains of an intellectually challenged person. Sure we are kinder than that! But are we really?!

Social skills becoming a barrier for people with varying intelligence.

We all know some highly intelligent people who lack the social skills and are often made fun of by the ‘it’ crowd, who calls them names like nerds or geeks. Wherever there is a majority of people with similar intelligence levels, they knowingly or unknowingly outcast people whose IQ levels don’t match with theirs.

About the Author- Daniel Keyes

I have not been this curious about an author in a long time! As I was reading the book, I had an increasing urge to find out more about him- the genius who could write such a masterpiece. But I held on to the curiosity till I completed the book as I wanted to form my own perception- free from any external inputs. Intelligent writing- simple read but one which presents many complex layers of human psyche. One can keep discovering hidden themes, meanings and unending symbolisms even long after finishing reading!

Quotes

  • “I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”
  • “No one really starts anything new, Mrs. Nemur. Everyone builds on other men’s failures. There is nothing really original in science. What each man contributes to the sum of knowledge is what counts.”
  • “That’s the thing about human life — there is no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed.”
  • “Intelligence and education that hasn’t been tempered by human affection isn’t worth a damn…Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love…Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection leads to mental and moral breakdown, to neurosis, and possibly even psychosis.”
  • (When talking about Warren State Home- home for mentally challenged individuals) “There are a lot of people who will give money or materials, but very few who will give time and affection.”
  • (Charlie while talking about the mentally-challenged Charlie) “Who’s to say that my light is better than your darkness? Who’s to say death is better than your darkness? Who am I to say?”
  • “The more intelligent you become, the more problems you’ll have.”
  • “Now I understand that one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you’ve believed in all your life aren’t true, and that nothing is what it appears to be.”
  • ( From Allegory of the Cave - Plato) “…the men of the cave would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes…” (Another interesting story and an important lesson in Greek Philosophy, if you care to read.)

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