Intelligence for Charlie: Not Necessarily a Positive Experience (unfinished)

According to the Stanford-Binet Intelligence test, only 2.2 percent of the population will receive in Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score of 130 or higher. The current population of the United States is roughly 313.9 million people. This means that nearly seven million people in the United States have an extremely high IQ, given most of the population will attain a score that ranges from 85 to 115. On the other end of the spectrum, the same percentage of the population (2.2 percent) will have an IQ less than 70. The sci-fi narrative “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes has as its main character a man named Charlie who has an IQ of 68. Charlie has an experimental operation to increase his intelligence, and it more than triples after the operation. However, with Charlie’s increased intelligence — literally moving from one end of the spectrum to the other — comes problems he didn’t expect to encounter. Charlie’s limited time as an extremely intelligent person was not a positive experience for him; if he were given a chance to go back in time, he should not have had the operation.

Although Charlie felt he would be a happier person with increased intelligence, this was not the case. In one of his Progress Reports to his doctors, Charlie reports that he went out with his coworkers to a bar one night and got drunk. The reader understands that the coworkers purposely left Charlie all alone at the bar as a sort of joke, but Charlie doesn’t know this. It isn’t until he becomes incredibly intelligent that he realizes these coworkers have, in fact, been treating him as a laughingstock and a source for their own amusement. He feels ashamed and

sick inside . . . like [his] chest it feels empty like getting punched and a heartburn at the same time

Later on in the narrative, . . .