Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quotes from Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" (novelette)

This document is a companion to the main post on this story. Many of the quotes below will probably make sense only if read in the context of main post.

Quotes are in order they appear in the story. Misspellings are normally not mine but from the story (they are a feature of the story, not a bug). Of course, I might have added typos of my own.

Most quotes are not pearls of wisdom, but capture the sentiment of the story. Charlie Gordon is protagonist.

  1. "some men in white coats took me to a difent part of the hospitil and gave me a game to play. It was like a race with a white mouse. They called the mouse Algernon... They said it was amazed and that Algernon and me had the same amazed to do. I dint see how we could have the same amazed if Algernon had a box and I had a paper but I dint say nothing...
    that test made me feel worser than all the others because they did it over 10 times with difernt amazeds and Algernon won every time. I dint know that mice were so smart."
  2. "she said ... If you volenteer for this experament you mite get smart. They dont know if it will be perminint but theirs a chance. Thats why I said ok even when I was scared because she said it was an operashun."
  3. "If the operashun works I'll show that mouse I can be as smart as he is. Maybe smarter."
  4. "I had lots of tests and different kinds of races with Algernon. I hate that mouse. He always beats me."
  5. "Sometimes somebody will say hey look at Joe or Frank or George he really pulled a Charlie Gordon. I dont know why they say that but they always laff."
  6. "If you can get smart when your sleeping why do people go to school... I use to watch the late show and the late late show on TV all the time and it never made me smart. Maybe you have to sleep while you watch it."
  7. "I told Dr Strauss what good is it to get smart in my sleep. I want to be smart when Im awake. He says its the same thing and I have two minds. Theres the subconscious and the conscious... And one dont tell the other one what its doing. They dont even talk to each other. Thats why I dream... I forgot to ask him if it was only me or if everybody had those two minds."
  8. "Mr Donnegan said I was the best janiter he ever had because I like my job and do it good and never come late or miss a day except for my operashun."
  9. "I beat Algernon! ...
    Then the second time I lost because I got so exited I fell off the chair before I finished. But after that I beat him 8 more times. I must be getting smart to beat a smart mouse like Algernon...
    I said can I feed him because I felt bad to beat him and I wanted to be nice and make frends."
  10. "It's a funny thing I never knew that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around all the time to make fun of me."
  11. "People think it's funny when a dumb person can't do things the same way they can."
  12. "I guess I'm still a little angry that all the time people were laughing and making fun of me because I wasn't so smart."
  13. "IQ measures a lot of different things including some of the things you learned already, and it really isn't any good at all.
    So I still don't know what IQ is except that mine is going to be over 200 soon... I don't see how if they don't know what it is, or where it is - I don't see how they know how much of it you've got."
  14. "Dr Nemur wanted to publish the results of the experiment at the end of this month. Dr Strauss wanted to wait a while longer to be sure. Dr Strauss said that Dr Nemur was more interested in the Chair of Psychology at Princeton than he was in the experiment. Dr Nemur said that Dr Strauss was nothing but an opportunist who was trying to ride to glory on his coattails...
    Dr Nemur had a shrew of a wife who was pushing him all the time to get things published so that he could become famous."
  15. "Mr Donnegan insisted that it would be better for all concerned if I left. What did I do to make them hate me so?
    ... Mr Donnegan showed me the petition. Eight hundred and forty names, everyone connected with the factory, except Fanny Girden. Scanning the list quickly, I saw at once that hers was the only missing name. All the rest demanded that I be fired."
  16. "This intelligence has driven a wedge between me and all the people I once knew and loved. Before, they laughed at me and despised me for my ignorance and dullness; now, they hate me for my knowledge and understanding."
  17. "I realize that Dr Nemur is not at all a genius. He has a very good mind, but it struggles under the spectre of self doubt. He wants people to take him for a genius."
  18. "I was shocked to learn that the only ancient languages he could read were Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and that he knows almost nothing of mathematics beyond the elementary levels of the calculus of variations. When he admitted this to me, I found myself almost annoyed. It was as if he'd hidden this part of himself in order to deceive me, pretending - as do many people I've discovered - to be what he is not. No one I've ever known is what he appears to be on the surface."
  19. "Dr Strauss told me I was giving Dr Nemur an inferiority complex. I thought he was mocking me and I'm oversensitive at being made fun of."
  20. "I saw Miss Kinnian last night... I tried to avoid all discussions of intellectual concepts and to keep the conversation on a simple, everyday level, but she just stared at me blankly and asked me what I meant about the mathematical variance equivalent in Dorbermann's Fifth Concerto...
    No matter what I try to discuss with her, I am unable to communicate."
  21. "How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibility, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes - how such people think nothing of abusing a man born with low intelligence."
  22. "even in my dullness I knew that I was inferior, and that other people had something I lacked - something denied me."
  23. "Last night I couldn't remember where I lived. A policeman took me home. I have the strange feeling that this has all happened to me before - a long time ago."
  24. "I put flowers on Algernons grave about once a week. Mrs Flynn thinks Im crazy to put flowers on a mouses grave".
  25. "Its easy to make frends if you let pepul laff at you. Im going to have lots of frends where I go."


Anonymous said...

what page is number 12 on in the book????

Tinkoo said...

#12: Don't remember.

Incidentally, this post is based on original short version of the story, found in Silverberg's anthology; it's not based on the book that is the later novelization of original story.

Anonymous said...

ok thanks anyway.

Anonymous said...

Who's the strange doctor that Mrs Flynn calls to see Charlie near the end of the story?

Dr. Anna Strauss said...

I do not know. The doctor isn't related to me.

Dr. Nemur said...

I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

could you please tell me what page #21 is on?