Especially in the second half of the novel, Charlie Gordon experiences vivid hallucinations of his younger self, often peering out from behind a window. Charlie’s visions prove that he hasn’t entirely overcome his own troubled past: not only is there a part of his mind that continues to suffer from mental disability, but he’s also still traumatized by his childhood experiences. As a child, Charlie’s mother, Rose Gordon, beat him for misbehaving or touching women, even in the most innocent ways. As a result, Charlie—even as a brilliant adult—can’t be intimate with women without hallucinating a younger version of his self. The symbolism is clear: the child is “father to the man”—that is, Charlie’s internalized sense of fear and inferiority from childhood lives on in his own head as an adult.
Flowers for Algernon
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie) appears in Flowers for Algernon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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...on the couch, he tells Strauss about his hallucinations—he’s been seeing a version of his childhood self . As Charlie talks, he has another hallucination, so vivid that he forgets Strauss is... (full context)