Flowers for Algernon

Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie) Symbol Analysis

Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie) Symbol Icon

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.

Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie) Quotes in Flowers for Algernon

The Flowers for Algernon quotes below all refer to the symbol of Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt edition of Flowers for Algernon published in 1994.
Progress Report 14 Quotes

Somehow, getting drunk had momentarily broken down the conscious barriers that kept the old Charlie Gordon hidden deep in my mind. As I suspected all along, he was not really gone. Nothing in our minds is ever really gone. The operation had covered him over with a veneer of education and culture, but emotionally he was there—watching and waiting.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Related Symbols: Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie)
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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Then, with a violent effort of the will, I was back on the couch with her, aware of her body and my own urgency and potency, and I saw the face against the window, hungrily watching. And I thought to myself, go ahead, you poor bastard—watch. I don't give a damn any more. And his eyes went wide as he watched.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Fay Lillman
Related Symbols: Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie)
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie) Symbol Timeline in Flowers for Algernon

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.
Progress Report 14
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Pride, Hubris, and the Tragic Hero Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...wanted to learn to read and write like everyone else. Charlie realizes that the “ old Charlie ” is still with him, even after his operation. (full context)
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...for Chicago. Charlie meets Alice at her apartment, where he confesses that he’s still “ the old Charlie Gordon ” sometimes—the frightened child who fears his mother. (full context)
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Intelligence vs. Wisdom and Morality Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...this time.” Charlie makes passionate love to Fay. As he does, he imagines the “ old Charlie ” watching, and finds that he doesn’t care anymore. (full context)
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Intelligence vs. Wisdom and Morality Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...Charlie has too much to drink, and in his drunkenness he behaves like the “ old Charlie .” Fay is confused by Charlie’s behavior, but finds it funny. Charlie also notes that... (full context)
Progress Report 16
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Intelligence vs. Wisdom and Morality Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...leaves the house. As he walks away, he turns back, and thinks he sees a little boy staring at him from the window. (full context)
Progress Report 17
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Intelligence vs. Wisdom and Morality Theme Icon
Pride, Hubris, and the Tragic Hero Theme Icon
...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)
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
Pride, Hubris, and the Tragic Hero Theme Icon
October 17. Charlie begins to have hallucinations of his childhood self , looking out through a window. He fears being sent back to the Warren State... (full context)