Study Guide

Flowers for Algernon Sex

By Daniel Keyes


Dr. Strauss feels that emotionally I'm still in that adolescent state where being close to a woman, or thinking of sex, sets off anxiety, panic, and hallucinations. (11.102)

Why is Charlie stuck at the emotional level of an adolescent boy? Does he get to be in a Clearasil commercial, at least?

"That's filthy!" I shouted. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." (12.130)

Looks like Charlie has something in common with Hester Prynne—they're both Puritans. But hey, why does Charlie suddenly change his mind about having sex with the stranger? Can you say double standard? Also, remember how his mom stopped being so nice to him when she was pregnant…

No sex, or anything like that. But you were phenomenal! What an act! The weirdest. (13.194)

It's nice to know that Fay found Charlie's most embarrassing moment entertaining. It seems like a red flag that she doesn't recognize Charlie's vulnerability.

Yes, I wanted you, but I wasn't really making love to you. I was going to use you—in a way—but I can't explain. (14.205)

We're sure that makes Alice feel just swell. Why is Charlie honest with her about what he planned to do?

I wanted to overcome my emotional and sexual fears, to marry, have children, settle down. (12.126)

Aw—that's so sweet. It's cool that Charlie knows he has to figure these tough things out to eventually be a good partner.

And I thought to myself, go ahead, you poor bastard—watch, I don't give a damn any more. (14.210)

Could it be that old Charlie and new Charlie are finally okay with each other? This seems like a pretty big breakthrough.

I went home and made love to Fay, but kept thinking about Alice. (14.236)

Ouch, that's a little harsh. Something tells us that neither of these ladies would be totally thrilled to hear this news. Maybe thinking about Alice keeps him from getting fully involved with Fay, and vice versa.

Get him out of here! He's got no right to look at his sister with sex in his mind! (16.275)

It's Charlie's worst fear come true, but he takes his mom's accusation pretty calmly. Why doesn't he freak out?

Alice was a woman, but perhaps Charlie would understand that she wasn't his mother or sister. (17.293)

The nice thing about being a genius is that you can provide your own therapy, apparently. Sounds like Charlie's been putting women on a pedestal for a long time.

I don't pretend to understand the mystery of love, but this time it was more than sex, more than using a woman's body. (17.293)

Charlie's finally got his girl, and he's pleased as punch. Does Charlie ever fully love Alice, though?