Charlie’s Treatment

Charlie, the main character in Charlie, by Daniel Keyes is treated differently by everyone he

knows. Imagine you had mental retardation. You only know the basics of anything. You can’t spell and

have an extremely limited vocabulary. Suddenly you have an experimental operation. This makes you

extremely smart. Now you can understand emotions. With this new understanding you know how

everyone has been treating you.

Compared to everyone else Charlie is treated nicely by his father. His father protects him from

most everyone. Even his mother. Not only does his father accept him but excepts the fact that Charlie is

retarded. "How do you know? What do you know about this man? If there was anything that could be

done, the doctors would have told us a long time ago." (94, Keyes). This is what Matt, the father, was

saying to Rose, the mother. They were at a doctors office with the young Charlie. Rose felt that Dr.

Guarino could make Charlie smart. Matt is skeptical that this could work. He is right, it doesn’t. Charlie’s

mother treats him much differently than Matt.

How Rose treats Charlie can classified into two phases. Before Norma, his sister, was born Rose

was kind and loving towards Charlie. However, once Norma was born Rose was harsh and concerned that

Charlie would hurt, or even kill Norma. In the book there is an incident in which Rose was planning to kill

Charlie if he wasn’t sent away. Again, before Norma was born Rose would have done anything to make

Charlie smart. "He’s going to be normal, whatever we have to do, whatever it costs." (94, Keyes). This is

what Rose said to Matt just before they went to see Dr. Guarino. Rose will also believe anything that is

said about Charlie becoming smart. On the whole, before Norma was born Rose loved and cherished

Charlie, and after, she neglected and hated him. Another person who mirrors Rose’s actions is Professor


Prof. Nemur was one of the scientists who performed the experiment on Charlie. Before Charlie

had the operation Prof. Nemur was treating him like an object. Although, Charlie didn’t know it one could

feel it from the reading. After the operation Charlie notices this and makes Prof. Nemur aware. "He

treated me - even then - as a human being. It may sound like ingratitude, but this is one of the things I

resent here - the attitude that I am a guinea pig. Nemur’s constant references to having made me what I am,

or that someday there will be others like me who will become real human beings." (101, Keyes). The "he"

Charlie mentions is Dr. Guarino. This quote shows just how differently everyone treated him. Prof.

Strauss, like Matt, treats Charlie with more respect that Nemur.

Prof. Strauss is another scientist working on the experiment with Charlie. He gives advice and

understands some problems Charlie has. When Charlie is at a medical convention with the professors there

is a small party. At this party Prof. Nemur is explaining Charlie’s experiment. Charlie interrupts Nemur

with talk of an article which attacked the way they reversed his retardation. Nemur shrugs it off and

continues. At that point Charlie starts to talk to Strauss.

"What did I day that upset him in that way?" (104, Keyes). Charlie asked Strauss

"You’re making him feel inferior and he can’t take it." (104, Keyes). Strauss responds.

"I’m serious for god’s sake. Tell me the truth." (104, Keyes).

"Charlie, you’ve got to stop thinking that everyone is laughing at you. Nemur couldn’t discuss

those articles because he hasn’t read them." (104, Keyes). This short conversation shows two things. It

shows that Strauss is concerned about Charlie and feels it would be better to help him. Also, it shows that

Nemur doesn’t want his experiment. In other words he wants to be in the limelight.

These conflicting feelings confuses Charlie. Since his intellectual side much exceeds his

emotional side he doesn’t know how to handle these new emotions. In the movie Charlie asks Alice why

people don’t make fun of a cripple, or someone who’s deaf but do make fun of a moron. Anyone who does

make fun of a retarded person is unfair to all human nature