Flowers for Algernon | Study Guide

Daniel Keyes

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Flowers for Algernon | Progress Report 3 | Summary

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Summary

Charlie Gordon titles this his "3d progris riport." In it he says Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur have reassured him they may still be able to use him despite the Rorschach test. Dr. Strauss says Miss Kinnian called Charlie her best student. He has asked Charlie about his desire to be smarter and his studies at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults. Charlie says he told Dr. Strauss his mother wanted him to learn and he tried very hard to do so, even though he had trouble retaining what he was taught.

Professor Nemur has told Charlie it's not clear whether the experimental surgery will work on him, because until now it has only been done on animals. He says if Charlie participates, the doctors will need permission from his family. However, Charlie's Uncle Herman is dead, and he does not remember much about his parents or his sister, Norma, except that they lived in Brooklyn.

Charlie does not want to continue writing the reports; the writing keeps him from getting enough sleep, which causes him to make mistakes at the bakery. Gimpy has yelled at him for dropping rolls. Charlie calls Gimpy his friend and speculates about how surprised Gimpy will be if he gets smart.

Analysis

This report offers further evidence of Charlie Gordon's wish to become smarter, as well as his determination to do whatever it takes to improve himself. Dr. Strauss says Alice Kinnian has noticed Charlie's hard work at college. Charlie says, "I tryed the hardist becaus I reely wantd to lern." His desire and effort make him a better learner than "pepul who are smartr even than me." Dr. Strauss wonders what accounts for his interest in learning, and Charlie claims, "All my life I wantd to be smart and not dum." Charlie also recognizes his mother's role in his urge to learn: "my mom always tolld me to try and lern."

The report reveals a bit more about the experiment. Professor Nemur tells Charlie the experiment has been performed on animals but never on people, which indicates that Charlie may be taking a big risk if he participates. It also shows that Charlie is distant from his family. His Uncle Herman is dead, and he doesn't know where his parents or sister live or even if they are still alive. It gives a sense of his deep alienation and loneliness in the outside world.

Readers can infer that Charlie lacks any ability to assess character or perceive hostility. He describes Gimpy, a man who works at the bakery with Charlie and "hollers" at him "all the time" when he makes mistakes, and then says Gimpy "reely likes me because hes my frend."

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