Study Guide

Flowers for Algernon Narrator Point of View

By Daniel Keyes

Narrator Point of View

First Person

Third Person (Omniscient)

All righty, things are about to get a little complicated up in this P.O.V. In other words, at least two and possibly more personalities are writing as Charlie. First of all, Charlie is narrating this story through his progress reports, which basically amount to diary entries. Fair enough. But you might notice the point of view shifting after Charlie's surgery starts to take effect—we've got less misspelled words, for one: "That's why I got to do these progris progress reports," he writes as he puzzles through his newfound ability to write sophisticated stuff. We get to see Charlie correcting himself as his intelligence evolves.

It's not even clear if the same Charlie is breaking things down for us, since he's got a whole new fancy vocabulary. There's no sudden transition, but check when he talks about a movie with Alice: "The parts have to be consistent and belong together. This kind of picture is a lie" (11.77). Color us surprised—Charlie couldn't form a complete sentence one progress report ago, and here he is discussing film theory. Which Charlie is this, anyway?

If that wasn't confusing enough, let's throw in some of Charlie's flashbacks for good measure. A good chunk of the book takes place in flashback form, narrated by an unknown third person. On an airplane to Chicago, Charlie sees himself as a young boy—and blam—we're back in Charlie's childhood, getting ready to see Dr. Guarino: "Where…Charlie…go?" (13.135). We'd like the answer to that question ourselves, thankyouverymuch.

We get the sense that adult Charlie is always lurking somewhere around, trying to figure out the messed-up events that took place when he was a kid. Although it's not always possible to tell one Charlie from another, the general rule is that first-person indicates current Charlie, third-person is little-kid Charlie, and pre-surgery Charlie is in limbo-land. Got it? Good.