I.Q., short for intelligence quotient, is a measurable human skill. “Flowers For Algernon” by Daniel Keyes circulates around the ability to change this skill. Charlie Gordan, who is a mentally retarded thirty three year old adult man is given the opportunity to change his I.Q. of 70, but to what is undetermined. The only other living organisms to be tested on are lab mice, Algernon withstanding the operation the longest. Therefore, any behavior Algernon undergoes is a warning and prediction for Charlie’s future. With this being said, foreshadowing is quite abundant, with Charlie and Algernon acting as a dual pair.
The use of foreshadowing begins right from the introduction of Algernon to the very end of testing. Algernon is introduced to challenge Charlie with puzzle solving races and for comparison before and after Charlie’s operation. Upon beginning his testing, it is revealed how alike Charlie and Algernon are, stating “I don’t know what it is or where I got it but they said Algernon had it too”(Page 9). The foreshadowing portrayed describes the similarities of Charlie and Algernon. The two are linked by their I.Q.s and motivation for change. While Charlie and Algernon share this relationship, it is unknowing how the two are connected until their operations are publicized. The two are brought to a conference in Chicago to share their progress with scientists seeking the same results relating to creating a “cure” for mental retardation. Although, this conference only leads to a shocking reality that Charlie begins to analyze and see as the beginning of his deterioration. This comes into action after hearing about Algernon’s latest behavior, stating “It is possible that both the increased intelligence and the erratic behavior at this level were created by the original surgery instead of one being a function of the other. It’s also possible that this erratic behavior is unique to Algernon”(Page 146). Despite the possibility that Algernon’s behavior may not affect Charlie at all, the information of the foreshadowing used is enough to put Charlie on edge and prepare for his deterioration in the future. This gives Charlie time to figure out what exactly will become of him and any way to fix the error for any future testing. The more aggressive Algernon becomes, it becomes more relevant how quickly the is deteriorating and how short tempered Charlie will become in the near future. Gathering the data from Algernon’s behavior, Charlie is able to develop a report and come to a conclusion with the experiment that he will soon perish from a dramatic increase of intelligence to nothing at all. Charlie phrases this in a more professional way, stating “Reviewing the data on Algernon: although he is still in his physical youth, he has regressed mentally. Motor activity impaired; general reduction of glandular functioning; accelerated progressive amnesia”(Page 234). As the experiment draws to a finish, the foreshadowing between Algernon and Charlie has reached an end. Charlie discovers that he will meet the same, horrifying fate as Algernon had. His behavior will become furthermore aggressive, unaware that his brain is smoothing out and reverting him back to the old Charlie, and then to nothing at all. With this knowledge, Charlie finishes his research and waits for his foreseen future.
To conclude, Daniel Keyes’s work, “Flowers For Algernon”, uses foreshadowing as a literary term. By using foreshadowing, the storyline is given an opportunity to see the results as one way and attempt to change the expected outcome. While Algernon and Charlie are the first to go through this treatment, their tied foreshadowed relationship provided enough research to attempt a better, not so temporary result.