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“Of Mice and Men” and “Flowers for Algernon”

Essay Topic: ,

In the Novels, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, a mentally handicapped person faces some kind of trouble in their day-to-day life. Lennie, from “Of Mice and Men,” can’t remember extremely well, but understands how to take directions.

He also has a superhuman amount of strength, which makes him seem like a great threat to society.

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In the Novel, “Flowers for Algernon,” Charlie Gordon has a passion for learning, but is incapable of doing so. To help him, he has a surgery that turns him into a super genius. Conclusively, these two characters have some similarities, but there are also some vast differences between them.

Lennie’s seen as a remarkably likeable, innocent, slow man. If only he knew how to control his own strength. He often dreamt about living on a ranch with George, where his only responsibility is to tend to the rabbits. He obsessively enjoys petting animals, those with soft fur in particular (mice, rabbits, etc.). Lennie seems to be unaware of how aggressively he pets the animal, so he ended up killing a few of them. When presented the opportunity to touch the hair of Curley’s beautiful wife, he couldn’t help but to hold on.

Consequently, he snapped the woman’s neck, accidentally murdering her. George had no other options than to put his best friend away; the reason being that he didn’t know how to control himself, nor did he realize that there were consequences for his mistakes. Lennie passed away still believing that his dream of tending to the rabbits would come true.

In comparison, Charlie is a likeable guy who makes innocent mistakes constantly. “You really pulled a Charlie Gordon this time.’ He enjoys his job at Mr. Donner’s bakery, along with going to Ms. Kennian’s school for retarded adults. His only wish is to be smart like all of his friends. He accepts an offer to have an operation that will, theoretically, raise his IQ. He is set to be the first human to have this operation performed.

After the operation, he begins to become more paranoid, more depressed, and more aware of his surroundings as he grew smarter. When he reached a certain level of intelligence, he begins to lose all of his friends. He also starts getting smarter than everyone around him. “I’m just as far away from you with an IQ of 175 as I was with one of 70.” (page number).

Amazingly enough, Charlie’s wish comes true, but it costs him his friends and his sanity. Tragically, his intelligence starts declining, until he becomes just as simple as he was before. After trying to fight the regression, he ultimately has no choice but to leave town, in the direction of the Warren State Home, due to the fact that he was no longer capable of taking care of himself.

Both of the characters from the novels were lacking in knowledge or oblivious of the world around them. They also had a dream of living a better life with their friends. Charlie, somewhat reached his goal. He became much smarter than he once was, and became smarter than everyone around him. Lennie never actually reached his goal, but found peace and happiness when imagining it before his death. Both of the characters also faced an upsetting end. Lennie’s ends up being death, while Charlie’s turns into a total downhill spiral that left him worse off than he was originally.

These characters are undeniably similar, but they also have some strong differences. They both have different strengths and different weaknesses. They also went about reaching their goals different ways. They both had different endings.George, Lennies best friend and heavily trusted ally, shoots Lennie in the head, while, in ‘Flowers for Algernon,’ Charlie became so ashamed, so upset, about how he lost his ability to learn that he left to the Warren State Home.

One of Charlie’s strengths before the operation was his eagerness to learn. There was no way of knowing why he wanted to learn so badly. Perhaps it was to impress his friends, or so people would like him more. Charlie’s biggest strength after the operation is his new ability to soak up information.

Before, he could only dream of being that smart, but then, when he became that smart, he used is intelligence to help science, psychology, and people like him. Lennie’s biggest strength was his strength. He could probably do the work of 5 men with how strong he was, which is why he did such great work in the fields. All he needed to do was listen to whatever George told him to do, so he would be just fine.

Charlie’s biggest weakness before surgery was his inability to tell the difference between people laughing at him and laughing with him. It’s questionable if this counts as a weakness or not, seeing that he was much happier when he couldn’t tell the difference. Some may consider it a weakness, on the grounds that large numbers of people don’t like being laughed at, so at least if you’re aware that you’re being laughed at, you can do something about it.

After the surgery, Charlie’s biggest weakness would be the way he interacted with other people. Connecting and understanding how people’s feelings as well as emotions worked seemed impossible to Charlie, now that he was on such a higher level of intellect. (INSERT QUOTE) Lennie, somehow, could tell when the laughing and the mockery was aimed at him, but his biggest strength was also his biggest weakness. Lennie, didn’t exactly know how to control his strength, so when facing a problem, he didn’t know when to let things go. “‘Lennie let go before you rip his arm off,’ said George.” (page number).

There’s a difference between how the two went about trying to reach their goals. Lennie largely depended on George to take him to his goal. Lennie appears to be like a super powerful machine that only listened to George, so George was the brains of the duo. The operation in ‘Flowers for Algernon,’ was a large factor in Charlie’s mental development, though he largely relied on himself to read while trying to do productive things. Charlie received a great deal of help from Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss, but they don’t deserve all of the glory.

At the end of, ‘Of Mice and Men,’ Lennie accidentally snaps the neck of co-worker’s wife. After escaping to where George told him to hide, Lennie waits for George there. George approaches him, talks to him, and fills his head with fantasies of tending rabbits on a farm. Right when Lennie feels at his happiest, George shoots him in the head, killing him.

The end of ‘Flowers for Algernon,’ is just as heartbreaking. After realizing that Algernon, the lab rat that underwent the same surgery as Charlie, starts regressing mentally, Charlie has to accept that he will soon suffer the same fate. He tried his absolute best to remember everything that he had learned, but it’s hopeless. Charlie ends up dumber than he was before the operation, forcing hom to move to a state home.

Charlie and Lennie have numerous similarities. They also have multiple differences. Characteristics that appear in both characters are their lack of intelligence along with how they didn’t fully understand the world around them. They both had large dreams and goals, but they both met emotionally devastating ends. Some of their differences are their strengths, weaknesses, strategies to achieve their goals, and how their tragic ends occurred. The ending to both of these novels is heartbreaking, which makes you think. Would you prefer to live in the dark, unaware of all the wickedness of the world, or live in the sun and be forced to accept the positives and the negatives of the word?

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