Why Did Daniel Keyes Write Flowers For Algernon
Short Bio of Daniel Keyes
Daniel Keyeswas born August on 9, 1927 and is a famous American author best known for his Hugo award-winning short story and Nebula award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. The book won him the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.
Keyes was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 17, he joined the U.S. Maritime Service as ship’s purser. He obtained a B.A. in psychology from Brooklyn College, and after a stint in fashion photography (partner in a photography studio), earned a Master’s Degree in English and American Literature at night while teaching English in New York City public schools during the day and writing weekends
Daniel Keyes was educated at Brooklyn College, where he received a B.A. in psychology in 1950. After the completion of his graduation, he briefly worked as an associate editor for the magazine Marvel Science Fiction while pursuing his own writing career.
Later, he earned a Master’s Degree in English and American Literature while pursuing a teaching career in English in New York City public schools during the day. In 1952, he got married to Aurion of hisea Georgina Vazquez, with whom he had three children.
Keyes went back to Brooklyn College where he received an A.M. degree in and continued to teach English on the university level, first at Wayne State University in Detroit. Michigan, and then at Ohio University, where in the 1970s he was promoted as a Professor of English and director of the University’s creative writing center.
Flowers For Algernon
Those of you, who have had a chance to read Daniel Keyes may wonder why did Daniel Keyes write Flowers of Algernon because its theme varies from other work pieces. Through this book, Daniel Keyes has tried to explain to us the psyche of mentally disabled individuals or those with an IQ less than the rest. Flowers of Algernon is although a science fiction but the message it carries is deep and thought provoking-that is, not to make fun of those who lack mental capabilities.
Flower of Algernon revolves around Charlie, who is a thirty two year old individual with an IQ level of 68. At work, co workers ridicule him and treat him like an entertainment machine. Charlie learns that two scientists are working on increasing the mental level and their first experiment on a mouse named Algernon has been successful; therefore, he presents himself as the first human subject for the experiment.
After few days, Charlie’s IQ level triples. Due to his superior abilities, his emotional relationships suffer and he is neglected by the society. Gradually, Charlie discovers that the neural enhancement was temporary, his memory reverts to original. He dies in a hospital with a last wish to place flowers on the grave of Algernon.
Coming to the reason of writing Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes told that in 1945, when he was in school, where he had a major conflict with his parents. They wanted him to become a doctor and Daniel was interested in making his career as a writer. During this phase, he used to wonder how to increase the intelligence of an individual.
The idea came when later in 1957, Daniel was teaching English to weak students and during a lecture, a student raised a question that if he becomes smart and intelligent, would he be allowed to study with regular students. These two events moved him and promoted him into writing a short story called Flowers of Algernon in 1959. Due to the increasing importance of the issue, Daniel Keyes gave it the shape of a novel.