Charlie Gordon Flowers for Algernon is Charlie's story. He is the main character who initially works as a janitor in a bakery by day and attends a school for developmentally disabled students at night. Charlie undergoes a surgical procedure that increases his intelligence and challenges every aspect of his perception of life.
Algernon A white mouse that undergoes the same surgery as Charlie. Algernon's intelligence is superior to Charlie's when they first meet; however, Charlie soon surpasses him. Charlie feels a real kinship with Algernon and becomes his advocate, as well as his friend.
Miss Alice Kinnian Due in large part to Miss Kinnian's recommendation, Charlie is chosen for the Beekman University experiment. Alice is a teacher at the Beekman Center for Retarded Adults, and Charlie is one of her students. Charlie comes to her class on his own, with the motivation to learn to read and write. Because she feels some responsibility for Charlie's inclusion in the experiment, Alice con-tinues to see him as he evolves. What initially begins as friendship turns into love. Alice stays close to Charlie until almost the very end. He ends their relationship when he feels that his regression is becoming too painful for both of them.
Professor Harold Nemur As a professor of psychology at Beekman University, the pro-ject to increase human intelligence is Professor Nemur's lifelong work. But with his orientation to experimentation and science, Prof. Nemur has a hard time relating to Charlie as anything but a lab rat. This attitude creates an ongoing source of conflict for Charlie, who feels that he must constantly remind Prof. Nemur that he was a person before the experiment began.
Dr. Jayson Strauss Dr. Strauss is the neurosurgeon who performs Charlie's surgery. He is also the psychiatrist whom Charlie meets with on a regular basis for therapy. Dr. Strauss tries to help Charlie deal with the memories he's recalling. He is very concerned that Charlie's intellectual growth will outpace his emotional growth, and, unfor-tunately, he is correct. Charlie perceives Dr. Strauss as a nonsym-pathetic figure, too, because of the distance he must keep as a therapist.
Burt Seldon Burt is a graduate student working on his Ph.D. He is in charge of administering all of Charlie's and Algernon's intelligence tests. At the International Psychological Convention in Chicago, Burt presents a paper on this topic. Only out of friendship for Burt does Charlie resist freeing Algernon while Burt is on stage.
Matt Gordon Matt Gordon is Charlie's father. When Charlie was growing up, Mr. Gordon was a barbershop supply salesman who hated both his job and his life. Always been willing to accept Charlie for who he was, Matt had been his loyal defender. When Charlie meets Matt again, later in the novel, Matt has left Charlie's mother. He has his own barbershop but does not recognize his own son.
Rose Gordon Rose Gordon is Charlie's mother, who instilled in him his strong motivation to "be smart." She was most concerned about ap-pearances, working always to show what a good wife and mother she was, and she refused to believe that Charlie was incapable of learning. After the birth of her daughter, Norma, Rose realized that she could produce a "Norma(l)" child. From that point on, she of-ten lost patience with Charlie and finally believed that he would be better off dead. When Charlie meets her after his surgery, he wants her finally to be proud of him. For a brief moment, she is proud of him, but old and senile, she cannot fully grasp the situation and re-turns to her old attitudes and fears.
Norma Gordon Norma is Charlie's younger sister. The University contacts her for permission to use Charlie in the experiment. Until that point, she believed that Charlie had died at the Warren State Home a long time ago. Norma is the "normal" child that her mother had always wanted Charlie to be. It was due to the onset of puberty and her desire for a normal childhood that Charlie was sent away. Charlie accidentally meets Norma when he visits his mother. She is thrilled to see him and has been eagerly anticipating their reunion. Charlie is quite surprised, and in their reminiscing Charlie discov-ers that Norma was the unwitting accomplice in his ejection from the family many years before. Charlie leaves without telling her that his intelligence is not permanent.
Uncle Herman Charlie's uncle, to whom Matt takes Charlie after Rose threat-ens to kill the boy. Uncle Herman is the alternative to the Warren State Home.
Mr. Donner When Charlie's Uncle Herman passes away, his friend Mr. Donner steps in and assumes responsibility for Charlie. He owns a bakery and promises that Charlie will always have a place to work, a bed to sleep in, and food to eat. Charlie does not tell anyone about his surgery, so as his intelligence increases, everyone at the bakery is amazed. Mr. Donner promotes Charlie to dough-mixer and even gives him a bonus for designing a new way to set up the bakery's machines. Threatened by an employee walkout, however, Mr. Donner lets Charlie go. Charlie's intelligence not only creates a gap between himself and his coworkers, but it also frightens everyone as well. Mr. Donner does rehire Charlie for his old job when Charlie's intelligence wanes at the end of the book.
Gimpy Gimpy, whose nickname is derived from his clubfoot, is the head baker at Donner's Bakery. He is married with three children. After the operation, Charlie catches him shortchanging the register and confronts him about it, ending what had been their friendship. In the past, Gimpy had been the one who always stood up for Charlie. He refuses to appeal on Charlie's behalf when Mr. Donner lets him go; yet when Charlie returns to the bakery, it is Gimpy who reinstates their friendly relationship.
Frank Reilly and Joe Carp Both bakers, these are Charlie's coworkers from Donner's Bakery. Charlie considers the men to be his friends; however, when remembering incidents after his surgery, he realizes that they often made a fool of him. When Joe Carp intervenes at the conclusion of the book as a new bakery worker threatens Charlie, Charlie again sees these men as friends.
Fanny Birden The bakery's cashier, who raises the theme of Man Playing God. When Charlie is let go from the bakery, she lectures him on wanting to be more than God had intended him to be.
Meyer Klaus A new bakery worker hired during the interim while Charlie is gone. When Charlie returns to the bakery, Klaus verbally and phys-ically assaults Charlie, mocking him for his lost intelligence. When the other workers want Mr. Donner to fire Klaus, Charlie con-vinces them not to. He remembers how it feels to be fired, and Charlie only wants to be friends with everyone.
Dr. Guarino Dr. Guarino was another of Rose's hopes to make Charlie smart. At $10 a visit, twice a week, Charlie as a child would re-ceive shock therapy to increase his intelligence. Looking back, Charlie thinks that he should resent Dr. Guarino for deceiving his parents. However, Dr. Guarino was always pleasant to him and al-ways treated him as a human being.
Fay Lillman After escaping from the Chicago convention with Algernon, Charlie rents an apartment in mid-town Manhattan. Fay Lillman is his neighbor across the hall; she loves three things: dancing, paint-ing, and sex. Her apartment is never locked, and she often shows up at Charlie's without an invitation by using the fire escape. Invariably she brings a bottle of gin with her, and the two of them become friends and then lovers. Their relationship falters when Charlie realizes that his intelligence is not permanent. Fay does not care about Charlie's research, and she never knew about his surgery, but it is because of her that he is finally able to express his love for Alice Kinnian.
Mr. Winslow Mr. Winslow is the head psychologist at the Warren State Home. He escorts Charlie on his tour through the facility. He does not understand Charlie's interest and misinterprets his intent. As Charlie leaves, he hopes Mr. Winslow will remember him when he returns as a resident.
Mrs. Mooney Mrs. Mooney is the landlady of Charlie's apartment building. She takes care of Charlie during his final days of regression. She is kind to him even though she does not understand what he is going through.