Flowers for Algernon

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With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?
An American classic that inspired the award-winning movie Charly.
Curriculet Details
41 Questions
44 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in eighth grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining flashbacks, sarcasm,and connotation. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about irony, theme and symbolism. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of theme, figurative language, and point of view. This online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension. Teachers, please be aware that this novel contains explicit language, and sexual references. Please read this novel prior to allowing students access to it.

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Homework #6

An epigraph is a quotation at the beginning of a book that suggests the book’s theme. In this excerpt from The Allegory of the Cave, Plato uses a metaphor to describe how education affects the human soul. He likens the gain of knowledge to being released from a dark cave into the light of the sun. After the period of adjustment due to the blinding light, a person can see the world clearly and thus reach a state of understanding. As you read this book, think about the transition Charlie Gordon experiences and how it affects him and those around him.  

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The RorschachTest is a method psychologists use to assess personality characteristics and emotional functioning of the subject. What picture do you see in the inkblot below? Do you think this would be an effective way to assess someone's personality? (This annotation contains an image)

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What is the central idea in the first three progress reports? 

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Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it’s so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. 

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What does Professor Nemur's objection to using Charlie as the first human test subject reveal about his character? 


Point of view is the type of narration which shows us the opinion, or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation. In literature, the author uses a specific point of view to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story. View the video below to help you determine which point of view this story is told from. (This annotation contains a video)
An allusion is a reference to a character or event in a widely known text, image or event that helps the reader visualize or imagine more about the current text. The reader must already know about the reference to a famous Bible story, myth, or famous characters or events in order to understand what it means in the current story. The nurse is alluding to the story in the Bible where Adam and Eve eat a forbidden apple from the Tree of Knowledge in order to gain access to information, causing God to punish them. (This annotation contains an image)


How does the author's word choice help to develop the narrator's point of view? 
Charlie considers the workers at the bakery his friends because they all laugh together. How do you know they are laughing at him, not with him? 
Charlie's memory reveals 


Theme is a main idea of a book that is repeatedly addressed as the plot progresses. In this book, the theme of change is developing the plot of the book. What evidence do you see that Charlie is changing? View the video below to learn more about how to identify other themes in this book.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Charlie's memory contribute to an emerging theme of the book? 
Why is it surprising to the crowd that Charlie is blushing? 
The highlighted sentences begin a flashback, which stops the current story and changes the scene to tell the previous events as if the character is reliving the actual event. What understanding do you gain about Charlie's motivation and background from the flashback that adds meaning to his current situation? 
Before the operation, Charlie had the mind of a child and viewed girls as just friends. As his intelligence increases, his mind and body grow into adolescence and starts to view girls as women.  
What changes the relationship between Harriet and Charlie? 
What makes Charlie question whether the recording of the first Rorschach Test was really him? 
Charlie becomes self-conscious about his thoughts and feelings as he realizes people make judgements about him. Do you ever keep things to yourself because of a fear of what people will think? 


What does this flashback reveal about Charlie? 
Charlie realizes the scientists are only interested in making a big breakthrough in altering intelligence to further their careers. Do you think this is ethical behavior for a scientist? 
Which statement accurately describes Charlie's parents' points of view about his intelligence? 
Quiz Part 1 


The author includes several types of figurative language in this paragraph. The sponge and the ladder cannot be taken literally. Their figurative meanings illustrate the changes Charlie is feeling as his intelligence grows. Learn more about literal and figurative language in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
How do Charlie's memories of his childhood relate to his emotions toward Miss Kinnian? 
How does Charlie's memory of Norma's differences as a girl relate to a theme of the novel? 
Watch the video for a review of conflict. Which type of conflict is Charlie experiencing? What advice would you give Charlie to resolve this conflict?  (This annotation contains a video)
Remember to use the Define function to look up unfamiliar words! Does "pompous" accurately describe Professor Nemur? 
Which statement leads to a shift in the events of the story? 
How are Charlie's interactions with university professors examples of situational irony? Review the video about irony to review the three types. (This annotation contains a video)
Charlie's hallucination reveals  
Why does Mr. Donner call the group a "delegation"? 
Keyes, the author, uses the story of Adam and Eve as pattern for this modern story. How are the themes in the both texts similar? 
Click the link below to read the Bible story about Adam and Eve. Your next question will reference the story.  (This annotation contains a link)
What is the significance of Charlie's assessment of his situation? 


Review the video below to learn about static and dynamic characters. Which character(s) can be described as static? (This annotation contains a video)
How does the highlighted paragraph relate to the theme of love and acceptance? 
Which word is an antonym for docile? 
How is the relationship between Charlie and Alice another example of situational irony? 
Why does Charlie want to be punished? 


What causes Charlie to have this flashback? 
Charlie's flashback give you a glimpse of how people with mental challenges were forced to undergo harsh treatments in hopes of a cure. Other treatments included drilling holes in their heads, surgically cutting connections in the brain that send messages, and inducing comas in patients. Do you think our treatment of mentally challenged people has improved today? 
Which statement supports the inference that Dr. Guarino knows the treatment won't cure Charlie and wants to keep him as a patient to make money? 
Charlie's flashbacks serve to bring an awareness of why he thinks and acts the way he does. It seems as though he may now have a certain level of peace about the way people treated him during his childhood. How do you think this awareness will affect his future actions? 
Charlie has become smarter than the scientists. Why does this terrify him? 
A paradox is a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true. It seems contradictory to Charlie that Nemur, an ordinary man, works to make other people geniuses. Which statement below is another example of a paradox? 
Both the information about Algernon's erratic behavior and Charlie's feeling that "something was wrong" are examples of  
Professor Nemur says Charlie "did not really exist before this experiment" and creates the turning point for Charlie. This is the climax of the plot; the point where Charlie makes a decision that changes the rest of the story.  
Watch the clip below of the scene at the scientific convention. Pay attention to the differences between the clip and the scene in the book.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does the director choose to alter the scene so dramatically in the movie? 


Which excerpt from the text uses figurative language to clarify Charlie's statement that his mother was two people to him? 
Charlie is viewing Algernon as his friend. How does Charlie personify Algernon? 
Why does Charlie fear that Fay might suddenly start screaming when he is in her apartment? 
Based on the scene between Charlie and Fay, you can describe Fay as  
What is the central idea in Charlie's flashback of his last night at home? 
Do you think Charlie made the right choice in not revealing his identity to Matt? Do you think Matt would have accepted him? 
Charlie's comment is an example of sarcasm. Sarcasm is a cutting remark that is opposite what the speaker actually means in order to show bitterness. Why would Charlie be bitter about Fay and another man? 
Why is Charlie "afraid of losing his peanuts"? 
What decision is provoked by Charlie's encounter with the dishwasher? 
Charlie's recognition that his identity includes the Charlie as a child relates to the theme of identity. Do you think Charlie is closer to reconciling his true self? 
Charlie uses a metaphor of the blind alley to indicate that imagining Alice as Fay will not solve his problem of expressing his love for Alice.  
Why is Fay important to Charlie? 
Authors work hard to choose just the right word to give the reader a clear understanding of exactly what they mean. Which words in the highlighted paragraph indicate Algernon is regressing? 
Quiz Part 2 


What does Professor Nemur plan to do with Charlie if he looses his intelligence? 


Connotation refers to a feeling associated with a word’s meaning. For instance, the word home has a warm, positive feeling, but shack has a negative feeling. Think about the connotation of the word "cottages." Why would the Warren school prefer to use this term for their buildings? 
What does Charlie NOT learn about Warren during his visit? 
Authors use color to symbolize a specific feeling about an object or scene. White indicates purity and innocence, while black and red symbolize violence, danger or death. What does the color gray symbolize about Warren? View the video to learn more about symbolism in literature.  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Alice caution Charlie about Fay? 
So far, Charlie has shown no signs of regression. Why does he feel such a sense of urgency? 
Which sentence from the July 31 entry needs to be included in a summary of this report? 
Why does Charlie say in some ways he was better off before the operation? Do you agree? 
The author best develops the theme of love and acceptance through Charlie’s experience at the cocktail party 
Since Charlie will be writing objectively, he will NOT include 
Charlie shows Algernon the love and affection he craves by burying him and putting flowers on his grave. He wants Algernon to be remembered as more than the object of a science experiment.  
Why does the appearance of the dog surprise Charlie? 
How do the changes in the neighborhood symbolize the changes in Rose? 
How is it ironic that Norma cannot put her mother in an institution? 
Norma has a deja vu moment when Rose threatens Charlie with the knife. What can you infer from her recollection? 


Charlie begins an analogy here comparing Strauss with a barber. This literary analogy is more than a simile or a metaphor. Charlie goes into detail about how each part of the shaving process is like a therapy session.  
What force does Charlie feel is holding him back from the light? 
Charlie's hallucination reminds him of the Plato's Allegory of the Cave. He realizes that his intelligence will regress even lower than before the operation.  
Which statement from the text indicates Charlie is losing his intelligence? 
Charlie finally being able to make love with Alice relates to the theme of  
The symbol of the window has appeared several times in the novel. Charlie sees himself looking into the window or out of the window. It seems as though the window is a barrier for him. What do you think this window, or barrier, is keeping him from? 
Charlie's efforts to hold on to his intelligence reveal his  
Charlie's loss of intelligence is rapidly increasing, but he is still able to hold on to his dignity by not accepting charity.  
Charlie sees his intelligent self "from the window;" his transformation is complete. What has Charlie gained from this experience?  
Quiz Part 3