Flowers for Algernon | Study Guide

Daniel Keyes

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Flowers for Algernon | Progress Report 6 | Summary



In "progris riport 6th Mar 8," Charlie Gordon writes of awaiting surgery, frightened but bolstered by his lucky rabbit's foot, penny, and horseshoe. When visitors stop by to wish Charlie luck in the operation, Charlie notes he has his lucky things with him and plans to take the first two into surgery with him. Dr. Strauss criticizes Charlie for being superstitious, claiming luck isn't needed when there is science. Charlie, who doesn't know the meaning of the word science, speculates science may help him be lucky. Burt and Joe Carp from the bakery have brought flowers and cake from Charlie's well-wishers; everyone at the bakery believes Charlie is sick, because Professor Nemur has directed Charlie to tell them that. Alice Kinnian visits him, bringing him magazines and tidying his room. He says she looks "skared."

Charlie thinks about what will happen if the operation works. He imagines beating Algernon at the maze, learning to read and write, and having the same level of intelligence as other people. He thinks about finding his family and imagines how his newfound smartness will surprise them. Nemur has said if the operation improves Charlie's intelligence, it could help other people, too, and then Charlie's name will be famous. Charlie doesn't care about fame, though. He just wants to be like other people and have friends.

The scientists do not allow Charlie to eat before the surgery; Charlie takes everything at face value and doesn't understand what that has to do with becoming smart.


This report makes it clear Charlie Gordon wants to be smart not for its own sake but as a means to an end involving other people. He says, "I just want to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends who like me." He believes if he can be like others he will be loved. He imagines after the operation he will find his family and be "smart just like them and my sister," gaining the acceptance he has always craved and never received from any of them.

The preoperative conversation between Dr. Strauss and Charlie contrasts Charlie's belief in luck and Strauss's confidence in science. Charlie says, "I dont no what sience is but ... mabye its something that helps you have good luk." His expression is an example of dramatic irony, because his operation will bring him "good luck" followed by immense tragedy.

In the report, Charlie identifies Alice Kinnian as his teacher. It's apparent she takes a special interest in Charlie, bringing him magazines, tidying his room, and nervously fluffing his pillow. Charlie recognizes her attentiveness, saying she likes him and "wants [him] to get smart."

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