Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon Irony

Moral Dilemma Concerning Gimpy's Embezzlement

When Charlie discovers that Gimpy is stealing money from Donner, he first realizes that intelligence is not all that it seems. Moral dilemmas are outside the realm of a simple high IQ. Charlie says, “What’s right? Ironic that all my intelligence doesn’t help me solve a problem like this” (69), but ultimately finds that the answers to such problems combine common sense with intelligence and emotional history.

Rose's Dementia

In a moment of sad irony, Charlie visits his mother Rose to find that she has developed a mental illness: dementia. She is forgetful, behaves erratically, and often thinks that the present is the past. This is ironic because of her treatment of Charlie’s mental incapacitation as an evil sickness; yet her son treats her with respect and calmness, despite the bitterness and pain inside of him.

Norma's Growth as a Person

During his visit to his mother, Charlie also runs into Norma, who has also transformed into a different person than what he remembers. Instead of him begging for her acceptance as a child (and being rejected and abused by her), the tables have turned and it is now Norma who apologizes to Charlie and begs him for help. Again, Charlie treats her kindly and calmly, even when he tells her he cannot help them.

Bertha Nemur

Professor Nemur is one of the antagonists of the story, at least during Charlie’s present narrative. In many ways he lords over Charlie and wants the best for Charlie only insofar as it benefits himself. However, Charlie finds out about Professor Nemur’s wife, Bertha, who seems, ironically, to do the same thing to Nemur. She lords over him and “rides him” (as Burt says), putting a lot of pressure onto this character who is so concerned with what others think of him.