The Cause and the Loss: Comparison Between "Mice and Men" and "Flowers


for Algernon"


In the novel 'Of Mice and Men' (John Stienbeck) a
mentally challenged man, Lenny, loses his innocence when he
accidentally breaks a woman's neck. In the novel 'Flowers
for Algernon' (Daniel Keyes) another mentally challenged
man, Charlie, loses his innocence when, through the aid of
an operation, he realizes all his life people were mocking
him rather than being his friends. Although, in both cases
innocence was the loss, their innocence was also the
underlying cause of the loss.
Lenny had a soft spot for petting animals and soft
things and was totally oblivious to the fact that he was
much to big and strong for such delicate creatures, and even
some humans. "Lenny's fingers fell to stroking her hair...
he stroked harder... "Let go!" she cried... She struggled
violently... and then she was still; for Lenny had broken
her neck." (page 91). In innocence of his own strength,
Lenny had killed a woman and suddenly traded his innocence
for guilt.
Charlie grew up having a paradise-like world where he
supposedly had many friends. His lifelong ambition, to
become smart. When the chance came he took the offer
readily, unprepared for the changes in his life it would
bring. "And what was that Joe and the rest of them were
doing. Laughing at me. And the kids playing hide-and-go-seek
were playing tricks on me and they were laughing at me
too... I felt naked" (page 30). All of a sudden Charlie
realized everyone had always laughed at him, not with him,
and he suddenly ashamed/naked. In his innocence he had
requested "smartness" and with it came the loss of his
innocence followed by shame then anger.
In both cases Lenny and Charlie were tempted and in
their innocence they accepted. In both cases their innocence
was lost. Although their innocence may have appeared to
others as a struggle to both Lenny and Charlie it was a
paradise, and they knew that. Thankfully they both regained
their innocence and in doing so, they both regained their
paradise.