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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES / ANALYSIS The novel has been divided into Progress Report as submitted by the narrator Charlie Gordon to researchers in the Psychology Lab at Beckman College. These reports form chapters and their form and language reflect Charlies state of mind. Progris riport 1 - Martch 3 Summary Charlie Gordon introduces himself. He is thirty-two-year-old and works at Donners Bakery in New York, where he is paid $11 a week. He explains that he attends Miss Kinnians class for retarded adults at Beckman College, where he has learned to read and write. He has been introduced to Dr. Strauss and Prof. Nemur who will see if they can use me. Charlie wants to be smart. Miss Kinnian tells him that perhaps the two experts can help. The readers also learn that Dr. Strauss has asked him to write down, what he thinks and what happens to him during the day. He is therefore maintaining this record for the psychologists to study. Notes The progress report form has been used innovatively by the author. It is organic to his subject - which is the transformation of a mentally retarded young adult into a genius, and his later regression. The report format and the first person narrative involve the reader directly in the functioning of Charlies mind. This first report establishes the emptiness of Charlies own life and his innocence - the readers are told that he is thirty-two-years old, works in Donners bakery at a low wage, and is keen enough to study on his time off. His guinea pig status is also established when Charlie says that, they will see if they can use me. The severe limitations of Charlies capacity for thought are clear in, I cant think any more because I have nothing to rite so I will close for today. This and the brevity of Charlies first report, emphasize his mental state. The simple sentences peppered with bad spelling and wrong usage contribute to this impression. Progris report 2 - Martch 4 Summary Burt, a doctoral student at the college, conducts Charlies first test. Charlie is afraid that he has failed it and wont be used. The lab and the white coat make him feel Burt could

be a doctor, except that he doesnt tell Charlie "to open my mouth and say ah!" Burts repeated suggestions that he should relax only gets him "skared becos, it always means its gonna hert." For the test, Burt shows Charlie a lot of white cards with red and black ink splattered on them. Burt explains its a raw shok test (Rorschach Inkblot test) and asks Charlie to describe what he sees in the inkblots. Charlie tries desperately hard but is unable to visualize anything but an inkblot. He is sure he has failed the test when Burts frustration makes him break his pencil-point. Charlie feels that, even his luky rabbits foot hasnt helped. Notes Charlies fear of the unknown and his normal expectations of pain and bad treatment from those around him, are underlined by this chapter. He clings to lucky objects for comfort in a hostile world. The reader gets a graphic picture of the experience in the lab, and the subjects keen desire to please and win approval. It is a re-creation of every individuals childhood horror story of a visit to a doctor. Charlie tries hard, putting on and off his reading glasses, trying to pump the researcher for hints, but failing. He is shown to be like a child in some ways, but he does not have the ability to imagine and fantasize, like a normal child. In spite of his anxiety, Charlies determination to continue and get smart is unshaken. 3rd Progris report - Martch 5 Summary Charlie is very worried about failing the test, and assures Dr. Strauss and Nemur that he hadnt spilt any ink on the cards. They tell him it doesnt matter and Charlie hopes that, maybe they will still use me. They say he was highly recommended by Miss Kinnian as her bestest pupil. They probe into his reasons for learning and he says, "all my life I wanted to be smart and not dumb and all my life, my mom always told me to try and lern, just like Miss Kinnian tells me, but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something at Miss Kinnians class, --- I forget a lot." Prof. Nemur warns Charlie that they have experimented only on animals so far, and are not sure of the effects on human beings. Charlie replies, "I dont even care if it herts or anything because Im strong and I will work hard." They inquire about his family, as they require their permission to operate on him. Charlie says he hasnt seen his parents or his sister Norma for a long time, but he thinks they lived in Brooklyn. The report ends with Charlie hoping that he wont need to write many more, as he has to cut down his sleep in order to write it, and this makes him very tired for work the next morning. He has begun to make mistakes at the bakery and as a result Gimpy, his surly friend, has been angry with him. Charlie hopes that he will surprise Gimpy when he becomes smart.

Notes This report shows the researchers trying to delve into the mind of Charlie Gordon. His single-minded desire to be smart is shown in contrast to his severe limitations in the capacity to express himself. The other characters are gradually introduced. So far, the researchers appear as faceless men in white coats. Miss Kinnian is seen as a kindly, maternal figure and a source of hope and encouragement to Charlie. There is a brief reference to his family, which has obviously broken off ties with him. The only is his Uncle Herman. But unfortunately, he is now dead. Charlies loneliness and his traumatic past are just beginning to surface in these passing references. The guinea pig aspect is underlined by his finding the reports tiring, and the strain affecting his work at the bakery. Progris report 4 - Martch 6 Summary The reader learns that more tests have been conducted on Charlie, when he says, "I had more crazy tests today in case they use me." He asks the lady, who gives him the test, to spell the name of the test, so that he can write it in his progress report. The lady tells him that these are Thematic Apperception Tests. The first test looks easy because I could see the pictures. But the nice lady tells Charlie he has to make up storys about the pepul in the pictures. He refuses, as that would be telling lies and he always got hit when he told lies as a child. He offers to tell lots of stories about his sister Norma and his Uncle Herman, but she isnt interested. Charlie becomes irritable about the tests. He reports -"She looked angry and took the pictures away. I dont care. I guess I faled that test too." Then Burt Selden, the other research assistant, takes him to the lab, "Where they make spearamints. I thot that he ment like where they made the chooing gum but now I think its puzzles and games because thats what we did." Once again he is at a loss-"it was all broke and the pieces coudnt fit in the holes." The mazes too confuse him utterly. Then Burt takes him to a place where pepul in white coats are playing with animals so I thot it was like a pet store but their wasnt no customers. Then Burt introduces him to Algernon, a white mouse who can solve the maze real good. Charlie guffaws at the idea of a mouse doing anything that is so difficult. He is therefore amazed to watch Algernon solving the maze with a triumphant squeak. Then Burt suggests that Charlie should race Algernon. Both are given similar wooden mazes. Charlie has a pointer, which gives him a mild shock when he makes a mistake. Burt tries to hide the fact that he is keeping a record of the time each one is taking at the maze. Charlie races Algernon eleven times and the mouse wins every time. Ultimately, Charlie observes and learns from him. He concludes, "I dint know mice were so smart." Notes The chapter takes the reader further into Charlies progress as a research subject.

Algernon, the white mouse, is central to the novel, as he is Charlies alter ego. This symbolic parallel is rich in meaning. It shows Charlie as currently inferior to Algernon in ability, but very willing to learn from him. Not only are the readers aware of this parallel, but it is clear in Charlies mind as well. Algernon is the mouse on whom the experimental surgery has already been carried out. Charlie is the future subject of the same surgery. The bond between the two, on which the title is based, begins from this point. So far the men in white coats, seem distant and sinister while Charlies humble status is inferior even to that of the mouse! Only Charlies unwitting humor and lively curiosity lightens the atmosphere. Progris report 5 - Martch 6 Summary Charlie is informed that his sister Norma has agreed to the experimental operation. He is delighted. Then he overhears an argument between Nemur and Strauss. Nemur is worried about possible negative effects, and whether the dramatic rise in Charlies I.Q will harm him. Strauss argues that Charlies motivation is very strong, in spite of his current low I.Q, that it is similar to Algernons, and also that his rare enthusiasm makes him a good subject. This confuses Charlie who knows Algernons "motor-vation is the chees they put in his box. But it cant be only that because I dint have no chees this week." Strauss and Burt manage to quell Nemurs doubts, and he finally agrees. Charlie is so happy, he jumps up and shakes Nemurs hand, thus startling him. Nemur decides to take him into his confidence. He warns Charlie that this is the first time such an experiment is being conducted on a human subject. It could fail completely, or succeed temporarily and leave him worse than what he is now. It may even end in his having to live permanently at the state-run Warren Home for the mentally retarded. Charlie responds with great optimism - he is thrilled at this second chanse and the idea of "making a grate contribyushun to sience." Notes The till now faceless men in white coats are revealed in the flesh here. The irony of explaining the dangers to Charlie when he hasnt the capacity to grasp the consequences is sharp. The story now clearly moves into the realm of science fiction with the idea of a person with an I.Q of 68, being seen as the raw material for a new intellectual superman. The ominous significance of the risks being taken with Charlies life is hinted at, but the researchers are shown to be open about it. The mysterious Miss Kinnian is mentioned but not yet brought into the action. Above all, Charlies tremendous enthusiasm stands out. These otherwise drab chapters are made appealing by Charlies unintentional humor.

Progris report 6th - Martch 8 Summary Charlie is made ready for the operation. He has lots of visitors from the medical school and the bakery. The people from the Psychology Department send him flowers. Charlie has brought along his lucky rabbits foot, penny and horseshoe. He is not convinced when Dr. Strauss tells him that being superstitious is againt science. Miss Kinnian comes to visit him and makes him comfortable. One can gauge that, she is obviously worried about his safety. The staff at the bakery sends their good wishes and a chocolate cake. One also learns that, the staff at the bakery has only been told that, Charlie is sick and therefore needs treatment. This is because they are not sure whether the operation will work. Charlie is very happy and looks forward to defeating Algernon in the race after the operation. He is less interested in Prof. Nemurs pep talk about possible fame. He only wants to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends who like me. Notes Charlie reports events with his usual childlike directness. All the attention he gets makes him happy, yet his fear is revealed by all the lucky charms he clings to. That his good humor and simplicity have won him many friends is clear from the number of visitors he has. Miss Kinnian and the research team are all keyed-up. She, because she is concerned for Charlie, they because, for them, it is the experiment of a lifetime and could affect all their fortunes. In contrast, the man whose future is most at stake is more concerned about beating a mouse at a game, and about having lots of frends who like me and "being smart like other pepul. The irony at this stage is that, Charlie is doomed never to be like other pepul. His sub-normal I.Q now, and superior intelligence later, will always raise barriers between him and others. He doesnt know this or the fact that, the innocent satisfaction he has in his friends will soon be shattered. The seriousness of the situation is tempered by Charlies unwitting humor as he tells the reader, "I dont know what sience is ---- maybe its something that helps you have good luk" and again in "you cant eat before a operashun. Not even cheese." The bareness of the style not only reflects Charlies limited expression, but also lets the reader draw conclusions about the attitude of people to a retarded person, without overt comments from the author. Progress report 7 - March 11 Summary Charlie has recovered from the operation and resumed his report three days, after his bandages have been removed. He describes whatever he knows of the operation in minute detail. He remembers how surprised he was to see the observers gallery so full of

doctors, who had come to see the operation. I dint no it was going to be like a show!" The familiar surgeons, unfamiliar in professional gear, the frightful sensation of being strapped down, the fear of wetting his pants, are all documented here. When he awakes, to his astonishment, it is all over. He now looks forward to being smart like Joe Carp and Frank and Gimpy at the bakery. He longs to be part of their heated discussions about God or about "all the money the president is spending." He has always felt left out when they get all excited like their gonna have a fite. He wants to be like them so "you never get lonley by yourself all the time." Nemur now asks Charlie to write down all that he remembers about his past. He cant remember, and this worries him. "What do smart pepul think about or remember. Fancy things I bet. I wish I new some fancy things already." Charlie adds daily entries to the report. He is frightened by his skinny, intense nurse, Hilda. She is against the operation, believing that Nemur and Strauss are tampering with nature. She talks about Adam and Eve, and the apple, and the fall. Charlie protests-"I dint eat no appels or do nothin sinful" but the fear of angering God remains. The next day reveals that Hilda has been banished to the maternity ward where it dont matter if she talks too much. Charlie fires questions at her successor. When Miss Kinnian comes to visit him, he expresses his worry that, he is not smart yet. Miss Kinnian tells him it will come slowly and that hell have to work hard. Charlie is very disapointed to hear this because he thought that he would become smart immediately after the operation. He confides in Miss Kinnian about his plans to become an assistant baker, and to find his family and show them how smart he has become, so they wouldnt send me away no more. She is sympathetic and tells him she has faith in him. Notes The reports become more detailed as the action and Charlies mind get more complex. The author plays a little trick on the reader, allowing Charlie to spell progress report correctly this time, then having him explain how the nurse had spelled it for him! The nurse Hildas conservative doubts help build up the tension about the coming changes in Charlie. Miss Kinnian also appears tense about the outcome. Only Charlie has a sense of anti-climax, as he had expected an instant transformation! Once again, the hints of tragedy, like the memories of being sent away by his family, the nurses doubts about the experiment, are hidden among the humour of Charlies musings about his future, his protest about not eating appels and so on. Miss Kinnian is still a shadowy, kind, maternal figure in Charlies mind, and hasnt emerged as a character in her own right. Progress Report 8

Summary March 15 Charlie comes out of hospital to face a battery of tests and puzzles. He hates Algernon, as "he always beets me." He is fed up of all the amazes", tests, and progress reports and of the fact that he is not allowed to return to his work at the bakery. Charlie reports that, he gets headaches when he tries to think. One also gets the impression that he doesnt like it very much when Dr. Strauss makes him lie on the couch. Miss Kinnian comes to see him and Charlie once again expresses his disappointment that, he has not become smart yet. She reassures him by saying that it "will happin so slowly you wont know its happening." March 16 Charlie passes time sitting in the college cafeteria. He is fascinated by the students and their talk - "about art and polatics and riligeon." He does not understand the first two, but he knows thar, riligeon has to do with God. He remembers that his mother used to make him pray to God a lot "to make me get better and not be sick." Burt spends a lot of time with him and reveals more about the other characters. Burt is a doctoral student, a Psychology major. This confuses Charlie as he used to think that, one can find majors, onley in the army. Burt introduces Charlie to a lot of students and Charlie gets the feeling that, some of them are looking at him in a strange way, as though he does not belong to the college. Charlie is about to tell them that he will soon become as smart as them but, Burt stops him and tells the students that, Charlie is a cleaner in the Psychology lab. He tells Charlie that there mustnt be any publicity about his case, as Nemur doesnt want anyone to laugh at him, if things dont work out. This is surprising to Charlie who has always been laughed at by people who "are my frends and we have fun." He cant imagine why anyone would laugh at the humorless Nemur, who is "a scintist in a collidge." March 17 Each morning, Charlie wakes up thinking "Im goin to be smart but nothing happens." He is plagued by fears that the experiment is a failure, that maybe he will have to live at the Warren Home. He hates all the tests, and Algernon even more as, "I never new before that I was dumber than a mouse." He admits that he doesnt like writing progress reports anymore and that at times he finds it difficult to read his own handwriting. He is frustrated and often suffers from headaches. March 20 Strauss and Nemur decide to send Charlie back to work at the bakery. Every night he has to come to the lab and spend two hours writing "these dumb reports", for which he will be paid. Strauss tells him that he doesnt have to write progress reports everyday but asks

him to keep a notebook in his pocket and suggests that he should report only special happenings or when he thinks of something special. To Charlies great relief, Strauss explains that Algernon, too, has had a similar operation and has taken a long time "to get smart." Charlie now understands that this is the reason why he could not defeat Algernon in the different races. Dr. Strauss tells Charlie that there is a probability that Algernon will remain smart permanently. Dr Strauss also tells Charlie that this is a good sign as he and Algernon have had the same operation. March 21 Charlie returns to the bakery to a chorus of jokes about the operation. Joe Carp asks him whether they "put any brains in." Charlie is tempted to reveal the facts, but doesnt. He is upset at finding a new boy, Ernie, doing his work. Mr. Donner consoles him, explaining how his best friend, Charlies Uncle Hermann, had first brought him to work at the bakery. After Hermann dies, his mother admitted Charlie to the Warren Home. Then Donner had got him released for outside work placement. All this had happenned seventeen years ago. Donner promises Charlie that he will always have a job there, and that Ernie will eventually train as a baker. Charlie is puzzled when Ernies mistakes are called "pulling a Charlie Gordon." He doesnt remember making such errors, but lets it pass as, "their all my good frends and we have lots of jokes and laffs here." Charlie asks Mr. Donner whether he too could be an apprentice baker like Ernie. Donner is stunned at these new signs of ambition in Charlie. He puts him off gently. Charlie wishes his experiment was working and he could "get smart like everybody else." March 24 Strauss and Nemur visit Charlie to find out why his visits to the college have stopped. He explains he doesnt want to race with Algernon. Strauss says he need not, but his visits to the lab are essential. He lends him "a teeching machine that works like a T.V," which Charlie has to switch on before he goes to sleep. Charlie is mystified, but Strauss insists that he follow his instructions if he wants to get smart. He also explains to Charlie that, the changes in Charlie will be so slow, he wont notice them - "like you dont notise how the hour hand on a clock moves." When Nemur tells him how to operate the machine, Charlie demands to know its effects. Nemur is furious, but Strauss pacifies him by pointing out that theres been a change in Charlie, he is beginning to question authority. Nemur explains to Charlie that the machine will teach him things before and during his sleep. It will also stimulate him to remember his past. Charlie is scared. He asks when he can return to Miss Kinnians class and they tell him that she will give him special lessons at the testing center. March 25 Charlie is annoyed by the "T.V" which keeps him up all night - "How can I sleep with

something yelling crazy things all night in my ears." He asks, "if you can get smart when your going to school, why do pepul go to school?" He is sure its not going to work as hes been watching late late shows on T.V for a long time and they havent made him smart. He thinks maybe certain shows like quizzes could do that. March 26 The "T.V" disturbs his sleep, so he finds it hard to keep awake in the daytime at work. He remembers how he first went to Miss Kinnians class. He had asked Joe Carp how he could learn to read but he had laughed at him. But Fanny Berden at the bakery had overheard, and got the Centers address for him. He had been so excited that he had bought a newspaper, planning to read it immediately "after I lerned!" He had met Miss Kinnian there. She had been friendly and encouraging but had warned him that it might take years for him to read. March 27 Now that Charlie is beginning to remember his past, Nemur tells him he has to have therapy sessions with Strauss, as "when you feel bad, you talk to make it better." Charlie wonders why he should go as I dont feel bad and I do plenty of talking all day." But Nemur insists on it. Charlie still feels therapy is silly as he anyway writes his thoughts down in the progress reports. So he takes the latest reports with him and asks Strauss if "he could just read it and I could take a nap on the couch. I was very tired because that T.V kept me up all nite." Strauss refuses to listen to him and tells him that he has to talk. Charlie begins to talk but falls asleep on the couch, in the middle of the session. March 28 Charlie wonders what good it does to get smart in his sleep, when what he wants is to get smart when hes awake! But Strauss explains about his having two minds, the conscious and the sub-conscious and how "one dont tell the other what its doing." Charlie looks up the words in the dictionary, but cant understand the entry there. He reports that he has a headache. He has got it because of a party at Hallorans Bar. Joe Carp and Frank Reilly from the bakery had invited Charlie to the party. They had plied him with whisky, and he had danced on the bar with a lampshade on his head. He remembers Joe asking him to show the girls how he mops the toilets. Charlie had obliged and told them proudly how Donner and Miss Kinnian had praised him and told him to take pride in his work. Everyone laughs uproariously at this, and Joe asks if he is making out with Miss Kinnian. Charlie does not understand what he means. Charlie is very happy and says, "we have some good times but I cant wait to be smart like my best frends Joe Carp and Frank Reilly." The party ends for Charlie when they send him out "to see if it was raining." He is lost in the unfamiliar streets and is brought home, bruised and sore, by a "nice poleecman." That night, he dreams about the time when he had gone to a department store with his parents

and had got lost. Charlie was terrified, until a man had consoled him and given him a lollypop. Next day, Joe laughs at his bruises. Charlie decides not to drink whisky anymore. March 29 Charlie he beats Algernon eight times in a row and therefore he is very excited. He is sure, "I must be getting smarter to beat a smart mouse like Algernon. But I dont feel smarter." He feels sorry about beating Algernon and asks Burt if he can feed him. Burt refuses to give him permission. Burt also tells him that Algernon is so smart that he has to solve a problem with a lock that changes every time he goes in to eat, so that he has to learn something new whenever he wants to eat. That makes Charlie sad-"How would Burt like to have to pass a test every time he wants to eat." Strauss tells Charlie he must sleep well and gives him sleeping pills because he is very excited. He says the greatest change will come about when he is asleep. Charlies memory connects this with his Uncle Hermann sleeping at their house when he stopped getting work as a house painter. He had got too old to climb ladders. Charlie remembers saying he wanted to be a house painter like Hermann. His sister Norma had mocked him, saying that he was going to be the artist in the family. He remembers his father slapping Norma for saying this. "I always feeled bad when Norma got slapped for being mean to me. When I got smart, Ill go visit her." March 30 Miss Kinnian begins to coach Charlie to cope with his increasing intelligence. She says that she has great confidence in him. She says at worst he will have the increased intelligence only for a short time, but he will still have done something for retarded people everywhere. They begin reading Robinson Crusoe, which Charlie finds very difficult. He feels very sorry for Robinson because he is all alone. He hopes hell find a friend soon. March 31 Charlie is taught new words by Miss Kinnian. The irrationality of English spellings troubles Charlie. Miss Kinnian tells him not to worry, as "spelling is not suppose to make sence." Notes Charlies directness and positive attitude to all around him, is seen in all his observations about people. He now moves away from the restricted world of the bakery. The carefree college students and their incessant arguments about subjects completely alien to him fascinate him. Upto this point, the last word in smartness to him was represented by Joe Carp and Frank Reilly, his loutish friends. Now the larger world begins to open up before him. Charlie soaks it all in wide-eyed, and without any of the ego problems

which plague the others around him. He is astounded that anyone could laugh at Prof. Nemur. In his experience people only ever laughed at him because he was less than smart. Even then he has no grudge against the Carps and Reillys or against the childhood cruelty of his sister, Norma. However, Charlies personality is shown to be gradually altering after the operation. First, he is inevitably disappointed that he has not transformed instantly after the operation. Then there is anger at being pressurized by Nemur and Strauss, and frustration at being less than a mouse! Gradually, he begins to question the decisions made for himthe boring tests, the intrusive "T.V" and the contests with Algernon. His unconscious critical comments on the English language are very apt. Another new feature is his emerging memories of his family. So far, they are brief flashes set off by associations with something in his present experience. Memories of his mother, which are more central to his life and more traumatic, have still not surfaced. Charlies awareness of Algernons situation grows everyday. He enjoys holding the mouse. He feels sorry and angry that Algernon is fed only after he solves some problems. The earlier anger at being beaten by a mere mouse now grows into a bond of kinship, when he realizes that Algernon too has been experimented upon. Charlie is puzzled when Burt and his associates try to conceal from the students, his reason for being at the lab. But he is still only absorbing impressions and is not yet able to draw conclusions from them. Of the others described, Strauss, Donner, Miss Kinnian are portrayed as sympathetic. In this sense, Strauss differs from Nemur. Of the people at the bakery, Joe and Frank represent the most backward and insensitive attitude that some have towards a physically or mentally disabled person. Only Gimpy, himself lame, protects Charlie from their crude practical jokes. Miss Kinnian now begins to change from the vaguely maternal image "she looks younger than I remembered her," Charlie says. Nemur is the only one in the research team who seems to see Charlie as an experimental object. Both Strauss and Burt are very patient with Charlies anxieties and frustrations. The first person narrative suits the theme perfectly. Its low key humor, pathos, and bare reporting style reflect the still underdeveloped intellect of the narrator. It also permits the author to avoid technical explanations about the experiments, and allows the reader to form independent conclusions about people and events without interference from an omniscient author. The bare early reports are slowly expanding along with the narrators increasing awareness and power of expression. Progress Report 9 Summary

April 1 Oliver who works the dough mixer quits his job. It is April Fools Day, and Joe and Frank plan to play a trick on Charlie. They egg him on to mix the dough before Gimpy comes in. Only Fanny Birden, who is kind to Charlie, protests and asks them to leave Charlie alone. The rest hope that when Charlie inevitable messes up the dough, theyll get the day off. To their surprise, Charlie gets the mix right. Even the dour Gimpy is bewildered. So is Mr. Donner. Everyone is surprised, especially Frank. Fanny is thrilled for Charlie. He doesnt understand why Joe and Frank are hostile and aloof after this. Charlie overhears Frank telling Joe that, "there is something peculiar lately about Charlie." Mr. Donner insists that Charlie does the mixing permanently and gives him a 5dollar raise. Fanny explains to Charlie that "This is April Fools Day and the joke back fired and made them the fools instead of you." Charlie wonders, "Does that mean Im getting smarter?" April 3 He finishes reading Robinson Crusoe and wonders what happens to him later. Miss Kinnian says thats all there is. WHY? Charlie wants to know. April 4 Miss Kinnian is happy about Charlies promotion, but she says he shouldnt feel bad if he finds out that everybody isnt as nice as he thinks. Miss Kinnian starts crying when Charlie tells her that, "all my friends are smart people and their good. They like me and they never did anything that wast nice." He has faint memories of his mother, who he remembers was as nice as Miss. Kinnian. He remembers her telling him to be good and always to be friendly to people but "that some people might think you are trying to make trouble." This connects with another flash of memory. His mother had come from the hospital with a new baby girl. He remembers how the babys crying used to keep him awake in the night. One night, she had woken him with her cries, and he had picked her up "to hold her to get quiet the way mom does." His mother had rushed in screaming hysterically and had hit him hard. Charlie realizes now that she had thought he would hurt the baby, which he never would have. He decides to tell this incident to Dr. Strauss. April 6 Charlie learns about commas from Miss Kinnian who says people could lose a lot of money if a comma is in the wrong place. Charlie is completely confused by this, but enthusiastically uses them throughout his sentences! April 7 Miss Kinnian explains different kinds of punctuation, but Charlie mixes them all up! He feels "she is a genius" to understand it all and also have answers for all his questions. Charlie wishes he could be like her.

April 8 Charlie wakes up in the middle of the night and reads through a grammar book. He now understands all that Miss Kinnian had been trying to explain. Looking over his own old progress reports, he is horrified at his chaotic spelling and punctuation. Miss Kinnian however doesnt let him change them. She says that these will show what progress hes made. Charlie visits Algernon and plays with him. They no longer compete. April 10 Charlie is depressed. Its the first time hes stayed away from work on purpose. It all started with a party with his friends at the bakery. He had avoided whisky but the coke they gave him tasted "funny." Then Joe had egged on a girl, Ellen, to dance with Charlie and "give him a good time." Every one else had watched them dance and someone had made Charlie trip several times. In the beginning, Charlie too had laughed with them but eventually, he no longer found it funny. Ellen then offered him an apple, which he discovered was a fake one. Joe has said, "I aint laughed so much since we sent him around the corner to see if it was raining that night we ditched him at Hallorans." Charlie now realizes that they had got rid of him deliberately. This unpleasant incident sets off old memory - of kids in his childhood neighborhood allowing him to play hide and seek, with him as IT. By the time he opened his eyes, they all would have vanished and then he would go back home, alone. At last Charlie understands that Joe, Frank and the others only wanted him around to make fun of him. He also understands what they meant by "to pull a Charlie Gordon." Charlie runs home, heart broken. That night he has a wet dream about the experience with Ellen. April 13 Charlie misses work again because he is depressed about his "friends," yet he feels "its a good thing about finding out how everybody laughs at me." Hes happy about his reading, and about the fact that he is able to remember most things, but the disturbing aspect is the past, which keeps intruding - "it was like a big hole opened up in the walls of my mind and I can just walk through." He sees himself as another person - a young, skinny, scared man looking for Donners Bakery and watching scenes on the street nearby. He hears boys in the neighborhood calling him "Charlie! Charlie! ...fat head barley!" He remembers how they had called him into a dark alley and urinated all over him, how Uncle Hermann had run after them, in fury, with a hammer in his hand. Then he remembers a scene in the bakery, when tired after his work he had been dozing until someone had kicked his legs out from under him. April 14 Charlie tells Strauss all that he remembers. Strauss tells him that it is important for him to

learn about himself so that he can understand his problems. Strauss laughs when Charlie says he does not have any problems. Strauss tells Charlie that his problems will multiply with his increasing intelligence, especially as his intellectual growth will outstrip his emotional growth. He assures Charlie that he will always give him help when he needs it. Charlie reports the wet dream and feels queasy about it. He thinks the cause of the queasiness may be that, "I always thought it was dirty and lead to talk about it." Strauss reassures him, saying it is a natural thing that happens to boys. He thinks Charlie "is still a boy about women." All these new ideas are disturbing, but Charlie resolves "to find out all about my life." April 15 Charlie reads history, geography and arithmetic and begins to learn foreign languages. He is to start college subjects in a couple of weeks, and Strauss instructs him not to read Psychology, as it will divert him from his own experiences and into thinking about psychological theories. Charlie reads a lot of American literature and is impressed. April 16 Charlie is filled with anger when he thinks of all the times people have laughed at him. Yet, he hopes that when he doubles his I.Q of 70 as Prof. Nemur tells him he will, "people will like me and become my friends." He hears Strauss and Nemur and later, Burt, arguing about what I.Q really is. Nemur says it is a measure of intelligence while to Strauss, it "showed how much intelligence you could get ...you still had to fill the cup up with stuff." Charlie reacts with "I dont see how if they dont know what it is or where it is-how they know how much of it youve got!" April 17 Charlie has a frightening dream in which he is unable to write any progress reports any more. He asks Gimpy to write them for him and when Miss Kinnian reads them she is furious, as they are full of foul language. She tears them up later they turn into lace valentines covered with blood. Charlie lets the associations run freely through his mind as Dr. Strauss has taught him. He is back in memories of P.S. 13 where he studied as a child, aged 11. The boys allowed him to be in the middle of the ball game, but they did not allow him to throw the ball. A little girl, Harriet, with dimples and long curls passes by. All the boys loved her, therefore Charlie loved her too, though it did not mean as much to him as it did to them. Harriet was never cruel to him and he played the fool in order to amuse her. On Valentines Day, since all the boys wanted to give her a valentine, Charlie too decided to do the same. He wrapped up his heart shaped locket with red ribbon and asked a boy Hymie Roth to write his message on a paper. Hymie had done it, sniggering all the while. After delivering the gift, Charlie waited anxiously for Harriets response. She snubbed him at school next day and afterwards, to the delight of the other children, Harriets two

elder brothers beat Charlie up in the schoolyard. It is only now that Charlie can remember and understand what Hymie had done, the obscene note he had written. At the time he had been completely bewildered, hurt, his hopes shattered, but still completely in the dark. He concludes, "I was pretty dumb because I believed what people told me. I shouldnt have trusted Hymie or anyone." The incident had caused him to be shifted away to another school. April 18 Charlie is subjected to the Rorschach Tests again. He realizes that, they are the same inkblots, which had caused him so much tension earlier. When Burt gives him the instructions, Charlie gets very angry, saying that the last time he was asked to find pictures hidden in the inkblots and now he is being asked to say what these cards make him think of. He becomes very angry and walks out. Nemur, who was just passing by in the hall, and Burt follow him. When Charlie refuses to believe that the instructions were the same both times, Nemur tells him that he can listen to their taped conversation. Charlie immediately says that he will believe them only when he hears the tape. They make him come back and listen to the earlier taped conversation. He is shocked at his own childish remarks on tape. He suspects the psychologists of laughing at him, but sees what they are seeing - his growing doubts, anger at the world around him, which are intensifying as his intelligence is growing. He is also amazed to see that the inkblots do suggest pictures. Even so he suspects a catch, and peeps into Burts notes and at the backs of the cards. The test doesnt make sense to him-couldnt anyone make fools out of the researchers by lying about what they saw in the inkblots? Along with this skepticism, he also begins to resent the idea that his thoughts and feelings are being exposed to the psychologists. He decides to ask Dr. Strauss the permission to keep some of his papers private for some time. He wonders why this has begun to bother him now, when it didnt do the same earlier. Notes The success of the operation is clear from the gradual, but unmistakable, changes in Charlie. The incident on April Fools Day is exciting but also threatening. Charlie is delighted at being able to do things he could never do before, and being able to explore knowledge he had never known about. But peoples attitude towards him change. His boorish "friends" at the bakery become increasingly hostile and suspicious. This is balanced by the increased interest of the psychologists and Miss Kinnians joy in his development. Charlie is shown to be wary and self-analytical about these changes. He is defensive when Miss Kinnian suggests that his friends are less than kind. He becomes suspicious and hostile to the psychologists and is surprised at himself. The author brings in these differences gradually, so that they are quite convincing. He also makes digs at the methodology of psychological research - through Charlies digs at the meaning of I.Q. his query about how psychologists know how much it is, if they arent quite sure what it

is or where it is! He is equally critical of the validity of the Rorschach tests and whether a mischievous subject cant fake their results. Through these reactions, the author brings in some valid criticisms of the tools of research, as well as an insight into Charlies growing intelligence. The earlier retarded Charlie had been passive, eager to see the best in all around him. Now, like most normal adults, he is proud, suspicious of peoples intentions towards him, and jealous of his privacy. His questioning of the research methods used stems partly from his resentment at being spied upon and being "manipulated." On the one hand, there is Charlies excitement and joy at being able to explore new fields of knowledge on the other; he is plagued by memories of his unhappy past. The fearful child in him doesnt want to remember the painful incidents of his childhood and adolescence. There is an intense pathos in the memory of his mothers reaction to his holding his baby sister. In this, the novel goes way beyond the realms of science fiction and stirs a deep sympathy in the reader for the vulnerability of a mentally retarded person. It also has the unusual device of Charlie, now normal, feeling empathy for his earlier self. Most of the women in the novel - Fanny at the bakery, Harriet in his childhood and Miss Kinnian, are depicted as kind, warm and nurturing figures. Progress Report 10 Summary April 21 Charlie makes history at the bakery. He rearranges the baking machines so as to speed up production. Mr. Donner gives him a ten-dollar weekly raise and a fifty-dollar bonus. Charlie is thrilled and wants to go out for a celebration. Unfortunately, no one seems free to join him. He notes that everyone seems frightened of him. They no longer play tricks on him like Frank once did, like knocking his legs from under him when he had been sleepy once. They arent friendly either. Charlie recalls a scene when Frank had knocked him down. This had made Gimpy very angry and he had asked the boys to leave Charlie alone. Gimpy, bluff and dour, with a bad foot, had been Charlies champion. On that day, Frank had suggested that they teach Charlie to bake rolls. Charlie was excited but he didnt have the confidence to assert himself. Finally, everyone had got in on the experiment, and both the bakers had tried to show him how to mould the dough. Charlie was eager to please Gimpy, who had always been kind in his own gruff way. He watched both bakers but found their different styles confusing. Gimpy tried to tempt him with a cheap shiny pendant on a chain. He accepted the dough and then panicked. The words teach and learn bring back an oppressive childhood memory of his mothers arm raised to strike him for not learning something. The other people in the bakery told him to continue and finally he started rolling the dough into a ball and making little rolls the way Gimpy was doing it. Then Gimpy insisted that Charlie should repeat the activity on his own, without watching them. The second time, Charlie

had forgotten everything and while he was trying to remember, the others had given up on him and moved away. In spite of him not deserving the shiny medallion, Gimpy had given it to him. Charlie was touched by his kindness, but had wished, that the others would be more patient with him. He is sure that he would have remembered the work if they had given him time. When they had discussed him with a casual "Go on, you big baby", Charlie had fooled around with his comic book, acting as if it was a hat, to make them laugh. Looking back on that scene, Charlie is wistful. April 22 Charlie is now beginning to notice a change in the attitude of the people at the bakery towards him. He is conscious that he owes the huge change in his life to Nemur and Strauss, but "the pleasures gone because the others resent me." Charlie attributes this change to the fact that they dont understand what has happenned to him and therefore does not blame them. He feels lonely, and decides to ask Miss Kinnian to go to a movie with him. April 24 Charlie wants permission from either Nemur or Strauss before inviting Miss Kinnian, so he visits the campus. Here, he overhears a heated argument between the two. Nemur has agreed to present a paper on their experiment with Charlie at a convention in Chicago. Strauss objects to this idea as he feels that it is too early. Charlie overhears them hurling abuses and criticisms at each other. He suddenly realizes he has no right to listen, as "they might not have cared when I was too feeble-minded to know what was going on, but now that I could understand they wouldnt want me to hear it." He therefore leaves the campus. Their quarrel upsets him as, for the first time, he sees them as, "not gods or even heroes but just two men worried about getting something out of their work." April 26 & 27 Charlie finds himself getting more and more attracted towards the intense literary and intellectual discussions between students at the university luncheonette. He is shocked and then excited by their debates on the existence of God. He soon becomes deeply involved in reading a lot of literature and he describes this as, "feeding a hunger that cant be satisfied." April 28 His identifying with the students rekindles an old memory, and he dreams of a scene between his mother and his teacher at P.S. 13, his first school. His mother tries to scratch the teacher when she advises the family to send Charlie to a special school. He remembers that he was six years old then and his sister Norma was not been born. His mother, a tense, talkative woman, "was always fluttering, like a big, white bird-around my father, and he too heavy and tired to escape her pecking." She screams at his father, refusing to accept Charlies condition - "Hes not a dummy. Hes normal. Hell be just

like everyone else." His father objects to her "driving him as if he were an animal that could learn to do tricks." The loud voices frighten Charlie who takes refuge in a game with his bunch of beads. His mother flings them away, commanding him to play with his alphabet blocks. His mothers sudden outburst scares him and by looking at him his mother realizes that he has to go to the toilet. She asks him to go the toilet alone but Charlie is too petrified to move and therefore spoils his clothes. She goes towards him to hit him and Charlie turns to his father for comfort. Unable to influence her, Charlie remembers his father walking out of the apartment. Now, Charlie suddenly recalls that their names were Rose and Matt. Even in the dream, he is unable to see their faces clearly. It has been a long time. Notes The progress Charlie makes after the operation is shown almost imperceptibly. The device of a first person narrator is very effective in this novel. It allows him to depict Charlies thoughts and condition without the distancing or patronizing attitude that an omniscient narrator might have had. It also underlines the huge difference between the original Charlie and his persona after the operation. Three major developments are seen in this chapter. One is the disappointment of the postoperation Charlies hopes, of the deepening his friendship and of shared enjoyment with his "mates" at the bakery. The earlier "dumb" Charlie had believed them to be his friends and had been happy in their company. Now he is increasingly isolated from Frank, Joe and even Gimpy, his protector in earlier days. At another level, the reader is shown that even the earlier friendship was more in Charlies mind. Joe, Frank, and others had treated him sometimes with tolerance and at the others times, with a gleeful spite. The second important development is Charlies slowly revealed memories of his home life, which appear mostly in his dreams. The dominant figure is that of his mother. Her fanatical determination that Charlie should be "normal," makes her the center of his youthful fear and discomfort. She is seen as a bird of prey pecking at his gentle father. The third important element is Charlies new perspective of Nemur and Strauss, the two experimental scientists. Earlier Charlie was shown as accepting them as agents of hope in his life. There was irony in the depiction of their puppet-master attitudes, but the irony was not in Charlies mind. After the operation he looks at them analytically, they are not Gods any more, and in their confusion and egotism, lies Charlies insecurity. The readers also notice that, the Progress Reports become longer and more complex, with the increasing intelligence and complexity of Charlies mind. Progress Report 11 Summary

May 1 Charlie takes Miss Kinnian to see a movie. She attracts and excites him and he has an urge to touch her like all the dating couples around. When Charlie tries to confide his newfound feelings for her he becomes clumsy and drops things, but Alice is always patient. She refuses to accept any deeper commitment in their relationship as she feels "it might have a negative effect." Charlie on the other hand is furious and frustrated "with her easy answers and her maternal fussing." The evening ends on an uneasy note with Charlies resolve "next time, Im going to kiss her good night." May 3 Charlie has a nightmare. He sees a red-haired girl embracing him. The more caressing she becomes, the more he retreats as, "I know I must never touch a girl." The dream ends with her holding a bloody knife in her hands. He wakes up disturbed, and tries to let his mind go into a free associations process. He sees a picture of himself watching his growing sister Norma through a keyhole, as she is taking her bath. The memory then shifts to him being chased with a kitchen knife. He also remembers finding Normas bloodstained underwear one-day, and being frightened by that. He tries to connect his memories - "I can understand why I was taught to keep away from women. It was wrong for me to express my feelings to Alice." Yet, this is contrary to another need-"Im a person. I was somebody before I went under the surgeons knife. And I have to love someone." May 8 At work another disturbing factor surfaces. Charlie realizes that Gimpy is cheating Donner. When he works at the cash counter, he under charges the regular customers and gets a cut from them. Charlie is horrified to see this. He is grateful to Gimpy. But he also loves and owes an immense debt to Mr. Donner. He is disillusioned and troubled about what to do next. He thinks about Donners kindness to his employees, especially Gimpy. At that moment a red-haired lady comes to the bakery. Charlie realizes that, under Gimpys instructions, he has often delivered orders to her house. Charlie also realizes that, she usually comes to the bakery when Mr. Donner is not around. Charlie notices that, Gimpy undercharges her purchases. Charlie now realizes that Gimpy has used him as a go-between to deliver packages to such chosen customers. The fact that Gimpy has taken advantage of his ignorance makes Charlie furious. May 9 & 10 This is the first time Charlie has been faced with such a moral problem. He is torn between two old friends. Gimpy has three children and a clubfoot. What if he loses his job? On the other hand, why should he be allowed to cheat his employer? What about Charlies own role as an unwitting "accomplice?" Charlie takes his dilemma to Dr. Nemur. Nemur tells him not to get involved. He compares Charlies innocence in the matter to the position of a knife used in a stabbing. Charlie is furious - "But Im not an

inanimate object," he argues. "Im a person." Later, Strauss and Charlie discuss the matter during counseling. Strauss feels Charlie should tell Donner. This confuses Charlie even more. He is unable to make a decision and decides to speak to Alice about this and therefore asks her to meet him in the same cafeteria that they had met earlier. When he tells her everything, Alice pushes him to make his own decision. She says he should trust himself to do so. Charlie is excited at her advice. Charlie confesses that he loves her, but Alice does will not accept this seriously. She tells him he is changing very fast; that he will soon develop to a level beyond hers, and they may not have much in common. Charlie is terribly disappointed. He insists that he needs her for what she is, and that she should sometimes meet him outside the campus. May 11 Charlie decides to watch Gimpy for some more time. His doubts are confirmed and he decides on a "compromise." He tells Gimpy about an imaginary friend, who has discovered his colleague cheating his boss. He also tells Gimpy that, if the colleague stops stealing then the friend will not report the matter to the boss. Gimpy says that the friend should mind his own business. By now, the reader can understand that Gimpy knows who Charlie is talking about. He tells Charlie to tell his friend that, the colleague doesnt have a choice. While leaving, he asks Charlie whether the friend would be interested in a cut but Charlie refuses saying that the friend only wants this to stop. Gimpy is livid - youll be sorry you stuck your nose in. I always stood up for you. I should if had my head examined." May 15 Charlie reads books related to varied fields, like ancient languages, the calculus of variations and Hindu history. But he grows more disillusioned with those around him. He no longer enjoys listening to the students debates as they are, "on such an elementary level." He meets an economist with whom he wants to discuss the use of the military blockade as a weapon during the peacetime. However, the man says he cant answer as it is outside his area of specialization. Charlie is shocked. He has similar experiences with many other learned professors. "They would always find excuses to slip away, afraid to reveal the narrowness of their knowledge." May 17 Charlie takes Alice to an open-air concert in Central Park. All around them, there are couples making love. Charlie hesitantly caresses Alice, and is angry because he feels that she is responding, only physically, "while she kept her mind on higher things." Suddenly, he has a feeling that a teenage boy is watching him. He imagines he is in the boys place, watching Alice and himself. He asks Alice whether she can see him but she says that she doesnt see anything. He starts to chase the boy but fails to catch him. Charlie feels faint and dizzy. Later, after counseling he feels this experience was a hallucination. Strauss tells him that emotionally, he is still an adolescent and therefore is not ready for a serious

relationship. May 20 Charlie is sacked from his job at the bakery. Donner calls him into his office and explains - "Nothings wrong with your work. But somethings happened to you, and I dont understand what it means... Theyre all upset, Charlie, I got to let you go." Charlie pleads with him to let him stay, but Donner says the other employees are dead against him. Charlie asks for a chance to convince them. Donner unwillingly gives it to him. But it's no use Frank bursts out with - "you come pushing in here with your ideas and suggestions and make the rest of us all look like a bunch of dopes." While Gimpy plainly says - "you can go to hell!" Only Fanny Berden one of the girls talks kindly to him. But she is very suspicious. "Charlie if you done anything you wasnt supposed to - you know, like with the devil or something - maybe it aint too late to get out of it." Charlie ends up feeling lonelier than ever before. He wonders - " what would happen if they put Algernon back in the big cage with some of the other mice. Would they turn against him?" May 25 Against his own better judgement Charlie goes to Alice when hes in trouble. By the time he reaches her house he is soaked to the skin because of the rain. When Alice goes to the kitchen to make coffee, he studies her house and her choice of furnishings. He feels that theres a clash between the more intellectual Alice and her more conventional and romantic self. "As if Alice couldnt make up her mind who she was and which world she wanted to live in." When Alice returns with the coffee, he pours out his misery about being thrown out of the bakery, - "before I got involved in this experiment, I had friends, people who cared for me... Im like an animal whos been locked out of his nice, safe cage." Alice explains that his rejection at the bakery is a "a symbolic repetition of experiences you had as a child. Being rejected by your parents... being sent away..." Charlie rejects her "nice, neat label." Charlie tells her that the fear that he experienced for things like, being strapped for not listening to his sister Norma or his teacher tying his hands to prevent him from fidgeting, were all justified. However, the terror that he is experiencing now at being thrown out of the bakery is something that he doesnt understand. Talking about these things makes Charlie very upset and Alice holds him close in order to comfort him. She tries to give an explanation for his fear by saying that, he wants to be an adult, but he is still a little boy underneath. This sets of a series of memories - one of a middle-aged woman taking a delivery from the bakery and then exposing herself to Charlies eyes. Then back to his father trying fruitlessly to shield him from his mothers beatings because he had an involuntary

erection while looking at a friend of Normas. He remembers her threat - "If you ever touch a girl, Ill put you away in a cage like an animal, for the rest of your life." Charlie feeling still overwhelmed by the past asks Alice "You do it! Hold me!" But even when she does, the old panic overcomes him and he cries himself to sleep in her arms. Notes Charlies rapid intellectual growth excites him, but emotionally he is in anguish, both at his past that he remembers and at his increasing loneliness in the present. Earlier Charlie was shown lacking the basic understanding to evaluate a relationship correctly. He was happy when Frank or Joe laughed, not knowing that they were laughing at him. They are his world and he believes he is happy in it with his pals. When he had felt unhappy, he hadnt the capacity to know why or blame anyone for it. The operation frees him from his nice safe emotional cage in many ways. It exposes his pals and their so-called friendship with him as an exploitative relationship. The occasional pitying and kindness is swept away by their hostility when the moron begins to judge them and see their mistakes. They cant bear to see him around and have no peace till they get rid of him. The whole spectrum of people at the bakery, whether Frank and Joe, or Gimpy, or even Fanny Berden, all mistrust the unfamiliar and cant accept the new Charlie. Even the most sympathetically drawn characters like Donner and Fanny feel that there is something wrong about him and wont accept rational explanations. This makes Charlies earlier even deeper. He cannot turn to the researchers, who see him more as an experimental subject than a person. Inevitably, the only person he can turn to is Alice. The author shows his earlier childlike dependence on Alice as a sort of kindly maternal figure, is changing with his development. From Miss Kinnian she has now become Alice, who is young, lovely and desirable. Charlie then tries to fulfill his own needs through Alice, but she holds back. She is aware that during such rapid change, the Charlie of today, who is closer to her, may change dramatically in the future. She tries to hold back from a deeper commitment, but she seems to be weakening. Meanwhile, this chapter shows the background of Charlies fears of intimacy with a woman. It reveals to him and to the reader, his fear ridden past with his mother as, at one level, a villain. Yet, even in her depiction, there is a kind of ambiguity, as it exposes the desperation of a parent with a retarded child. It shows her determination that he should make progress, that he can be normal and that he should do nothing to attract hostile feelings in people around him. Her attitude is in contrast to his fathers softer, more tolerant one, of acceptance of his retarded state. His mothers determined efforts to suppress his sexuality haunt Charlie, the emerging adult. Now after the operation when sexual activity would be permitted for him, he finds himself paralyzed sexually. His inability to understand the reason leads him to more

free association, with the aim of probing his own past, and brings before the reader a series of haunting dream-like sequences of the Gordon family. The recurring images in these sequences are of a woman bathing, of blood and a knife upheld by an unseen hand. The hand is later seen to be that of the mother. The fear she has implanted in Charlie is so strong that he becomes physically ill and almost blacks out when he comes close to having a sexual encounter. In the incident at the open-air concert, he actually feels he sees a peeping tom spying on Alice and him. Gradually it turns out that it was his own younger repressed self he had seen. This peeping tom image is an important one in the novel. It signifies the alienation, which Charlie has always felt from those around him. He just exists and doesnt see himself as really living, but only as an observer of others lives. After the operation he can participate directly in life but the old image haunts him. He is alienated even from himself during his moments of deepest feeling. June 5 Charlie is to go to with Algernon to Chicago for the International Psychological Convention. They are the prime exhibits for Dr. Nemurs presentation of his experimental work. Nemur is tense because Charlie has not submitted any progress reports for two weeks. Charlie is irritable about writing because he finds it too slow when he needs other complex activities which his mind can chew on. Charlie takes up Strauss suggestion that he type out his thoughts. Charlie therefore begins to type, which is a faster process. Strauss also asks him to express himself simply, so that people will understand. Charlie appreciates the irony of finding himself "on the other side of the intellectual fence." Charlie is being paid by the Wellberg Foundation since the loss of his job. But the rejection at the bakery means much more to Charlie than losing his job. He has frightful dreams about it. It represents his only concrete connection with his past-his window, "the window reflecting my image becomes bright, as the glass turns into a mirror I see little Charlie Gordon..." He remembers a scene when his sister had come home triumphant after getting an A in a test. She demands a puppy, as promised by her mother. Her father refuses, as they have refused to buy a puppy for Charlie earlier. Charlie supports Normas demand and says that he will help her look after the pup. At this Norma throws a tantrum saying that the puppy will be hers alone and she will not share it with Charlie. She refuses to play with her brother, calling him a "dummy" and becomes hysterical. Bewildered, Charlie wets his pants, his common response to frightening events in his world. Charlie now remembers another fragment when Norma tells a friend, "he is not my real brother! Hes just a boy we took in because we felt sorry for him!" These memories arouse an intense mixture of anger and sorrow in Charlie. June 6

Charlie quarrels with Alice. He waits for her outside her class and cant resist going in to see the students. Some remember him from the past. After they leave he realizes that Alice is angry. She lashes out at him for his changing attitude to people, and for losing his warmth, openness, a kindness that made everyone like you. She also says he had undermined her own self-confidence and that he takes liberties with other peoples minds. Finally, she cools down and says she doesnt want to disturb him before the allimportant Chicago convention. Charlie leaves, angry and disappointed. Suddenly he has an astonishing insight. He realizes that his feeling for Alice has moved from worship to love, to fondness, to a feeling of gratitude and responsibility. He sees that he has clung to Alice out of fear of being forced out on his own and "cut adrift." June 8 Lonelier than ever, Charlie roams the streets at night "wanting someone to talk to and yet afraid to meet anyone." He finally stops at Central park, where he meets a woman sitting alone on the park bench. They start talking and she tells him about her husband and her family. While they are talking, Charlie realizes the kind of woman she is. He is quite eager to take her to his room, until she reveals that shes pregnant. He is shocked and angry, this frightens her and she screams. Seeing people coming towards the screaming woman, Charlie flees. The People start hunting for him, believing he tried to rape her. At one level, Charlie feels he wants the people to catch and punish him. Why? He is frightened of his own feelings of guilt. At the same time, the incident of the pregnant woman sets off the memory of his mother, when she was pregnant with Norma. "When she was holding me less, warming me less with her voice and touch, protecting me less against anyone who dared to say I was subnormal." Notes This chapter builds up the tension regarding the all-important Psychological Convention. It shows Charlie getting increasingly restless and disturbed with his environment. His exile from the bakery gives him nightmares. In the course of his too-rapid progress from pre-adolescence to adulthood, his dismissal from the bakery is necessary for his development yet it leaves him feeling naked and unprotected. Interspersed with his bad dreams, are vivid, hurtful scenes from his childhood. Here the author brings in the character of Charlies younger sister Norma. Bright and pampered, she had become the focus of the mothers attention. Her earlier obsessive concern for Charlie has obviously faded into indifference. The father is always shown struggling to be fair to his son, always kind, but having little influence on anyone in the family. The scene with the young sister reveals a harshly convincing picture of the way a retarded child is regarded as a liability, even by another sibling. The only company and friendship available to him is also withheld and her stinging rejection hurts him afresh even after so many years. His rejection by various people in childhood not fully realized then, but vividly so in the present, causes him intense pain.

This chapter shows a fresh stage in Charlies relationship with Alice. She exposes her insecurity with him and her mistrust of the person he is becoming. Charlie also realizes that he is outgrowing her intellectually, and his feelings have altered with his changing needs. Alice also comes out of the stereotype she seemed earlier. She comes across as a normal, intense human being, worried about whether she can deal with the unusual situation of Charlie. She has a strong attachment to him, but it doesnt meet her needs. It is clear to both of them that their relationship cannot lead to marriage, children, and settling down. The gradual withering of his earlier ties with people leads Charlie to prowl around, seeking human contact, but unsure how to deal with it. He tries to have to sexual fling with no ties, only to find the past too haunting, its influence still too dominant. The brief sketch of the woman in the park bench is vivid-she is seen through Charlies fresh viewpoint, not as a stereotyped pick up. There is an odd contrast between her aspect as, the kind of woman who had been around and her assertion that "Im going to keep the baby." Her confidences about her marriage to this stranger make her seem nave, in contrast to his sudden outburst and the chase that follows. Progress Report 13 Summary June 10 Charlie is flying to Chicago for the convention. He has been asked to tape his thoughts instead of writing them. The new experience disturbs him, and he keeps thinking of a crash and this reminds him of God and his mothers teaching. God has no particular relevance for Charlie. He has always vaguely imagined him as a departmental store-Santa Claus! He cannot distract his mind away from this fear of flying. Suddenly he remembers another fearful experience in childhood - a visit to a Dr. Guarino who was "going to help you get smart." This is one of his mothers attempts to get him to be normal, whatever we have to do whatever it costs. His parents have their usual tug-ofwar before the visit-Matt his father distrusts the doctor and anticipates exorbitant fees. The doctor snubs him when he asks him about his charges. Rose shows her eagerness and sweeps away any resistance. Charlie remembers the doctor as being kind but he had been terrified at being strapped on to the table. Mechanical sounds and flashing colored lights upsets Charlie and he wets himself. Dr. Guarino didnt lose his temper and assures him that hell be the smartest boy on your block before long. Later he let slip that "youll stay just the way you are-a nice kid." The parents quarrel all the way home, with a trembling Charlie trying to shut out their voices. As usual, his father walks off at the end. Charlie comes back to the present. He feels now that his mother was the catalyst for his unusual motivation to become normal. "Only after Norma proved to her that she was capable of having normal children, and that I was a freak, did she stop trying to make me over. But I guess I never stopped wanting to be the smart boy she wanted me to be, so that she would love me."

Charlie remembers the charlatan Guarino with tolerance - "He treated me-even then-as a human being." He contrasts this with Nemurs attitude to him as a guinea pig. "He doesnt realize that I was a person before I came here." June 11 They arrive in Chicago. Things dont begin well for Nemur, as everyone pays attention to Charlie, questioning him about everything, including his own condition. When the opportunity appears Charlie draws Nemur into the informal technical discussion on his condition. He suddenly realizes Nemur is unaware of research into the subject in India and Japan. When Charlie questions him, Nemur brushes him off. On appealing to Strauss, he finds that he knows even less. Charlie is horrified and thinks they are frauds. Burt disagrees with him-pointing out that Nemurs "just an ordinary man trying to do a great mans work, while the great men are all busy making bombs." He also informs Charlie that while he has himself developed a superb mind now, he hasnt got understanding or tolerance. He also tells him of Nemurs ambitious wife, who is always pushing him into influential positions and the public eye. This incident frightens Charlie - he realizes that "my fate is in the hands of men who are not the giants I once thought them to be, men who dont know all the answers." June 13 Its Nemurs big day, when he makes his presentation. Charlie and Algernon are on stage, along with Strauss, Nemur, and Burt. Burt begins the presentation with his report on the intelligence tests he has put the white mouse through. Here a disturbing fact is revealed that Algernon has been recently rejecting his food reward, hurling himself against the cage after the test and has been behaving erratically. Charlie has not been told about this. To add to this, the psychiatrists show films on Charlies early behavior in the lab, making the audience roar with laughter. His change of expression in later films is discussed as if he were "a newly created thing." "Charlie and Algernon" are constantly bracketed together-"two experimental animals with no existence outside the laboratory." Charlie seethes, but the final straw is when Strauss report reveals to him that they have not waited long enough before presenting their work. Charlie feels like jumping up and declaring this but he cant. He then hears himself described as "a feeble-minded shell, a burden on the society," who has now become "a man of dignity and sensitivity." Charlie has been flirting with the idea of freeing Algernon from his cage. Now he cant resist the temptation any more. Unseen, he pulls down the latch, and Algernon darts across the white tablecloth and disappears. Women scream and a confused mouse-hunt is launched! Women stand on chairs screaming and are knocked down by the mouse-hunters! The dignified gathering is reduced to a frantic rabble chasing "a white mouse smarter than many of them." The mouse enters the Ladies Room. While others hesitate Charlie slips in and puts Algernon into his jacket pocket and escapes to New York. Charlie feels hes running out of time, after the momentous realization he had had about the experiments on him. He decides to find a hotel room and to meet his parents.

Notes This is a climactic chapter in the novel. Charlies mental growth has reached a peak, he knows a dozen languages and can understand a variety of technical subjects. But this only brings home a bleak awareness. First, he remembers more of his early life and the driving force his mother was to make him "smart." However, the birth of his normal sister and her growth, had made his mother reject him completely and turn her attention to the other child. The episode with Guarino reveals the way quacks take advantage of desperate families with handicapped children. Yet, Guarino is shown as a sensitive person kind to an innocent boy. His comments on parents who want their normal children transformed into geniuses reflect back on society. Guarnio is juxtaposed against Nemur who regards Charlie as a laboratory animal and not a person. He is unable to take it when his "creation" knows more than he does. Algernons erratic behavior signals the beginning of the end, and Charlie foresees his doom. The author reflects on the pettiness of so called great minds, with the rider that the really great minds are making bombs. In the midst of these horrifying discoveries by Charlie, there is a wry humor in his report of the conference. Algernons escape makes the whole thing farcical. The climax for Charlie is very much an anti-climax for Nemur and his associates. The parallel of Algernon and Charlie is drawn further, and obviously Algernons negative responses reveal the chinks in Nemurs work and Charlies own dismal future. The bond between the two is cemented when Charlie determines to escape along with the mouse "two man-made geniuses on the run." Charlie, the retarded child and man, is the ultimate object for others to act upon as they wish. The treatment of a vulnerable person as a non-person, even by those who claim to be working for his good is exposed here. So too is the nightmarish situation in many families, with one mentally retarded member. His mother struggles and drags Charlie through all varieties of treatments because her ego is at stake - "whose fault was it: hers or Matts?" is the question that haunts her regarding Charlies condition. She struggles to change him, as she cannot accept him. Ultimately, Normas normal state makes her reject him completely. Nemur shows the same lack of interest and insensitivity personally. Charlie doesnt resent Strauss or Burt as much as he resents Nemur. As a counter to this, one can see Burts viewpoint - that Charlie is intolerant of Nemurs human weaknesses and negates his real achievement. Thus, Charlie is expected to treat others sympathetically as human beings, while he himself is not treated as one! Humour is one of the most striking aspects of this chapter. Starting with the ironic description of Nemurs petty egotism over the hotel accommodation, to his defensive feeling of superiority over Japanese and Indian researchers, and culminating in the

hilarious force of Algernons escape and the frenzy into which it throws the august gathering. Progress Report 14 Summary June 15 The next days headlines are all about how the "Moron Genius and Mouse Go Berserk." Charlie is astonished to read a news item about his sister who had thought him dead until the Beckman University asked for her permission for the experiment on him. He finds that his father is living separately, with a barbershop in the Bronx. Charlie wants to meet him in the time available to him. His mind hesitates to conjure up Roses face because he both feared and loved her. She used to alternate between tenderness and fierce outbursts till Normas birth. Then, while "Norma flowered in our garden I became a weed, allowed to exist only where I would not be seen, in corners and dark places." He is suddenly filled with hate for her, but he still needs to see her, perhaps to trace his past or to just show her that he is better than normal. A flash of memory reminds him of the painful incident, when she insists that he go the Warren State Home. His father resists, furious that "Now youve got her, youve decided you dont want him any more." She however remains unmoved saying that, she is "not going to sacrifice her daughter for him." Charlie burns with anger at the memory and decides he cant see her till he has worked out his feelings. June 16 Charlie checks into a hotel, with his small savings, and Algernon. He feels guilty about Nemur and Strauss, but consoles himself by the fact that he is still recording his project reports. He has a hard time preventing himself from calling up Alice. He calls her once and hangs up even before she picks up the telephone. He moves into a rented apartment with a separate room for Algernon. He plans to build him more interesting mazes "to keep in shape" but with rewards other than food. For himself, he plans to read and discover himself. June 19 Charlie meets his unconventional neighbor, Fay Lillman. Locked out of his flat, he approaches her to let him use the fire escape. He finds a slender blonde dressed only in bra and panties, standing before an easel, with a brush in her hand. Contrary to Charlie, she is quite unconcerned about her state of undress. He expects her to remember her state suddenly and start screaming. She however asks him into her messy, paint filled home and offers him a drink of beer or ale. Her home is filled with her paintings some of which, are nudes of herself. He is interested in her because of, "her robust, athletic movements," her preference for sitting on the floor and her avoidance of people "who come to sneer." She coolly follows him onto the fire escape saying, "Lets see your

place." Having seen it, she is horrified by its neatness! "All the straight lines in the walls, on the floors, in the corners that turn into boxes-like coffins----ugh! If I lived here I would have to stay drunk all the time." Her moods change like quicksilver. She strums his piano, asks for a five-dollar loan and teases him about Algernons mazes, all in a few minutes. Suddenly, recalling a date, she dashes off onto the fire escape, promising to repay him when her alimony arrives. Charlie cant believe he has someone so attractive, so full of life and excitements, "just a fire escape away." June 20 Charlie is excited at the thought of meeting his father, Matt. He approves of Matt having given up a salesmans job in favour of having his own barber shop. Rose had opposed this tooth-and-nail, and Matts walking out on her had freed him to do what he always wanted. Charlie has warm memories of Matt who always protected and accepted him as he was, without reservations. He longs to meet his father in order to share his new life with him. Matt does not recognize Charlie and takes him to be a customer. Charlie is too keyed up to confess and meekly asks for "the works." While sitting under the suntan lamp, Charlies memory flashes back to the last time he had seen his mother. His mothers shrieking wakes him up. He overhears her demanding his father that he should take him to the Warren State Home that very night. When his father protests, she picks up a kitchen knife saying, "Hes better off dead." A desperate Matt promises to take him to his Uncle Hermans immediately, till other arrangements can be made. Charlie is hurried away by Matt. Charlie remembers his mother turning away from him as he is leaving. This is the last time that he had sen her. After his shave, Charlie asks Matt if he knows him, but he doesnt - "What is this? A gag?" Then the familiar nausea and fear overcome Charlie. He doesnt want to be sick before Matt. What he really wants is for his father to be proud of him, to boast about him to his customers-"the old glow of satisfaction that came to his face when I learned to tie my own shoelaces and button my sweater." But at the end, Charlie chickens out. He doesnt want Matt to "resent me-as the others at the bakery resented me-because my growth diminished him." He walks out forgetting to pay. A suspicious Matt summons him back, and Charlie in his embarrassment, gives him a large tip. June 21 Algernon easily masters Charlies new mazes. He does not seem to require the reward of either food or water. He now learns only to succeed. But he still has fits of rage, throwing himself against the walls of the maze. Is it frustration or something else? Wonders Charlie.

One day Fay brings home a female white mouse, a partner for Algernon. She takes Charlie away from the maze after putting "Minnie" in, accusing him of having "no sense of romance." June 23 Next day, Fay brings a man home from the Stardust Ballroom where she loves to dance. She introduces him to Charlie and then they both go into her room. Charlie sits down to read but is unable to concentrate as he pictures Fay and the man in bed. But an hour later he hears sounds of a fight, and the man leaves, cursing. Fay casually visits Charlie and complains about the mans advances. She rejects Charlies view that she had given him the wrong signals. Later she hints that, her response would have been different if Charlie were involved. He is uneasy and she asks if hes homosexual. She incites him and he tries to respond. The old awareness of a third person watching them returns, this time without the old panic. He puts Fay off, but agrees to a drink. The next thing he knows is that hes got up with a hangover next morning. Fay tells him that he acted "strange" the previous night. He had told her he couldnt play with her, as his mother would take away his peanuts and put him in a cage. Fay was frightened of him, yet she had stayed-"you were like a scared little kid. I was sure you wouldnt hurt me, but I thought you might hurt yourself." Charlie is horrified on hearing about how he had behaved. He longs to reach out for her but it is obvious to him that, "Charlie was still with me." June 24 Charlie goes on a binge of watching movies. He moves from one cinema house to another. He dare not drink for fear of the old Charlie surfacing once again. Then in a sudden revelation, he understands that it is not the movies, but the audiences that he needs. Sitting with crowd of relaxed people in the dark makes him feel that he is a part of them. This gives him a sense of belonging, something, which he craves. Otherwise, his life has become aimless. Until one evening, he visits a diner. The teenaged boy, who has recently been appointed to wash the dishes, is similar to what he was before the operation. The boy suddenly drops a stack of dishes, breaking them. His fear followed by uncertain grins when the customers joke about him, reminds Charlie unbearably of himself. He reacts furiously -for Gods sake, have some respect! Hes a human being!" He walks out feeling ashamed on behalf of both of them. The incident gives him a new determination. Charlie decides to get back to the Welberg Foundation for permission to work on increasing human intelligence, in order to help others, who are like him. He decides to share this with Alice. June 25 Alice welcomes Charlie warmly and scolds him for disappearing earlier. He explains that he had to find some answers. He tells her that he had locked out the old Charlie Gordon

but couldnt succeed and that, "Charlie exists now in me and around me." It had not been his increasing intelligence, which had come between them, but his persona of Charlie "the little boy whos afraid of women because of what his mother did to him." He pours out his fears and discoveries to Alice until she is in tears. He longs to make love to her and decides to pretend she is Fay. He feels that "Charlie" is afraid of Alice, not of Fay. But, in spite of their feverish efforts, he cant go ahead. He is shattered but decides not to run away this time. He tells Alice that he loves her. He leaves, gets drunk, and seeks Fay. But she is not at home. Charlie waits impatiently for her and at last, Fay comes home. Charlie asks her to help him "erase the straight lines," which bothers her so much. Fay however is doubtful. She doesnt want this time to end in the same frustration as before. Charlie is impetuous and determined and promises her that it wont recur. He still sees the old Charlie watching them make love, but this time he is able to ignore him and find fulfillment. June 29 Energized by his new self-awareness, Charlie begins work on the psychophysical side effects of the experiment done on him and Algernon. He contacts an expert in the field who thinks he is crazy until they have a discussion. Charlie continues work in the lab. June 30 Fay and Charlie develop a serious relationship, although both know that permanence is not for them. They accept each others failings, and Charlie values her as "a free and independent spirit." Only her craze for dancing all night wears him out! About their feelings he says-"it's not love-but shes important to me." Charlie stops "watching" them. July 5 Charlie gets to know Fay better and starts valuing her generosity. Charlie learns that it is because of this generosity that she has run out of money. A week before meeting Charlie, Fay had befriended a girl at the ballroom and had invited her home after listening to her sob story. The girl however vanishes with all of Fays latest alimony payment. Yet, Fay cant be ruthless and complain against the girl to the police. She says that the other girl must have needed the money pretty badly! Charlie feels that Fay is exactly what he needs now. July 8 Fays lifestyle makes it hard for Charlie to work, but he tries to work on a "linguistic analysis of Urdu verb forms. He has also compelled a piano concerto, which he dedicates to Fay. Charlie admires the dedication of other researchers, but feels they are "studying more and more about less and less." Alice calls to ask him when he will return to the Beckman lab and he tells her that he will do so after completing his current projects. On one of his binges with Fay, Charlies old

persona reappears and does a tap dance on the stage of a club. Fay thinks he is a wonderful comedian with his "moron act." Algernon behaves erratically again, frightening Minnie. July 9 Fay has developed a habit of feeding Algernon who is quite friendly with her. One day, as she tries to pick him up, he bites her thumb. He then hurries back into the maze. At this point, they also discover that he has injured Minnie. As they try to rescue her from the cage, Algernon resists violently. Algernon calms down but Charlie notices that his actions are restless and confused. Instead of carefully determining his directions, he moves about hurriedly and seems out of control. It is because of this that, he often crashes into barriers. This gets Charlie worried and he decides to take Algernon back to Nemurs lab. Notes This chapter shows Charlies struggle to "grow up" normally, especially in emotional and sexual terms. He also explores the intelligence he has got after the operation. His escape from the convention gives him the chance to control his life to some extent, and take stock of what he has. The realization he has at the convention that, the experiment on him might still fail, gives him a sense of urgency and maturity. His mind reveals to him the traumatic events of his past, like his mothers ultimate and complete rejection of him. He wants to meet his family desperately and prove to them that he has gone beyond their wildest dreams! But, in the moving and sad scene with the father, Charlie cannot confront him. He is afraid that, as with other past relationships, this one too, will fail. Thus, his desperate need for warmth and love remains unsatisfied. He loves Alice but cant resolve his old problems with her. When Fay enters his life, she succeeds, to a certain extent, in freeing him from all the taboos that he is imprisoned within. Fay is a non-conformist, a strong character outside the framework of his childhood conditioning by his mother. She has rejected all the conventions, but is warm and generous and "just what he needs." It is a one-sided relationship in which Charlies essence, his past, is unknown to her. Charlies life has changed so dramatically that he is unsure about who he is. He cannot resolve the difference between the old Charlie Gordon, who was only an observer of life and barely tolerated by others, and his new self. It is only when he accepts that these two selves are part of who he is, is he able to move on. Thus he gets involved with Fay. He also starts a study on the operation done on him and Algernon, and it's effects. This chapter documents his struggle to adapt to his new life, and to take responsible decisions for himself. It also brings out the contrast between his mother and Fay, and Alice and Fay. His mother is almost the main antagonist in his life. But she is also shown to have been under great pressure. Her hysteria, her egoism, and her final cruel rejection are repeatedly revealed.

Both Alice and Fay accept him, but they are very different. Alice has been a sort of kindly maternal figure to the old Charlie. The new Charlie is attracted to her sexually but cant banish the old Charlies feelings for her completely. Also, Alice is a more conventional woman and falls within the category of those who were taboo for the old Charlie. Fay is unknown to the old Charlie and she also is unconventional. The old taboo therefore does not apply to her. Perhaps too, the relationship with her is less intense, hence doesnt make for soul-searching for Charlie. Another line of development in the chapter is that of Charlies work. He is shown initially, as just enjoying his new intelligence and dabbling in all kinds of reading. After the convention, when the seriousness of his own condition is brought home to him, he decides to escape with Algernon. Then he experiments with Algernons mazes, never using food as a reward. When he works with his "alter ego," the mouse, knowing that their situations are parallel, his work is convincing. Yet, when he is said to work on a piano concerto on "the pair production nuclear photo effect for exploratory work in biophysics," or on "linguistic analysis of Urdu verb forms, or the "Hindu Journal of Psychopathology," it sounds like gibberish. This is the weakest area of the novel - its claims to belong to the genre of science fiction. Whenever the author strays into a technical area, he seems to be quite ill at ease. Charlies constant movement from one area of work to another could suggest his restlessness and insecurity about his future. But, the superficial references to that work are not convincing. July 12 Charlie and Algernon go back to the Beckman labs. Nemur is cold and formal. He resents the fact that the Wellberg Foundation has agreed to Charlie working there. He now depends on Charlie to provide explanations for the changes in Algernons behavior. If Charlie fails, it will negate his own work. Either way, his creation has become his equal. Burt eagerly takes Algernon to the lab. He sadly observes that the mouse is solving problems on a much more primitive level than I would have expected. Algernon can no longer figure out sequences, he depends on trial and error. Burt introduces Charlie to all the features of the lab, except one last unit. On inquiry, Burt tells him that it contains the deep freeze and incinerator, where dead specimens are disposed off. Charlie is chilled to hear it. Charlie pleads with Burt that if Algernon dies, he should be handed over to him and Burt agrees. Drawing a connection, Charlie asks, what plans have been made for him if the experiment on him fails. Nemur is startled but explains plainly that Charlie would be committed to the Warren State Home. Charlie is furious. He demands to know why this will be done, when before the operation he was considered fit to run his own life and work at the bakery. Nemur explains that they had to visualize all the possibilities and that he might lapse into a worse condition than his earlier state.

For Charlie, the Warren State Home is equivalent to the "deep freeze." He jokes bitterly that at least they wont consign him to the incinerator! He asks to visit the Warren Home and see its arrangements for himself, while he can still understand them. Nemur is upset. But, Charlie feels it is essential for him to know, not only what his past was, but also what his future holds, to find out "the meaning of my total existence." After this, he puts himself through an intensive course of psychology tests of every school and approach. Fay wants to visit the lab but he forbids her from doing so. Notes A common motif in life and literature is the process of self-realization. This is difficult even for ordinary people. For Charlie with his extraordinary history, it is far more complex. He finds it difficult to take any action, interact closely with any person, because of his wildly contrasting "selves." Is he Charlie Gordon the "moron," easily pleased and controlled by others? Or is he Charlie Gordon, the genius-in-the making? How long can he be the latter? Is there any meaning to his life? Can he give it some meaning? These are the questions that haunt Charlie. In this chapter, the readers see a definite deterioration in Algernons capacities, and this signals the beginning of the end for Charlie. Just when he has begun to see some direction in his life, it is to be snatched away. The anguish this causes is the subject matter of this and the following chapters. From now on Charlie has to race against time to do something of value. Hence, his desperate efforts to study, to master psychology in a short time and try to defeat the errors made in his own and Algernons case. The researchers have been scrupulous about his future, but for them it is only one more experiment. For him it is his very existence! Project Report 16 Summary July 14 Charlie is in a bleak mood during his visit to the Warren State Home and Training School. It is a sprawling gray estate, discreetly set on a narrow side road. The head psychologist is unexpectedly young and very earnest. He explains that there is no high security system at Warren. Some "high-moron" types wander off. If they cant adapt to outside life, they return. Charlie learns that, the institute has a waiting list of fourteen hundred and can barely take twenty-five new people each year, as their members are there for a lifetime. Charlie meets Thelma who looks after the adolescent boys. She seems robust and kindly and tells him that, she feels her work is hard but "rewarding when you think how much they need you." He also sees some deaf and mute boys who are also mentally retarded, working on their carpentry. He is moved by the injustice that life has done to them. He observes an older boy caring for a younger one and Thelma comments, "They know enough to seek human contact and affection from each other."

The staff consider Charlie as just another normal academic from Beekman, doing some sort of observation. This is a contrast to the poignancy of his actual feelings and doubts about his future. He watches the boys there, their behavior, and their work, with exaggerated sensitivity, as he identifies with every one of them. When a boy touches him to signal goodbye he almost breaks down. His resentment is stirred when the motherly school principal calls the inmates her children, and says they are "beyond help." Yet, he is moved by the dedication of all the staff he has met. But, he is chilled by the fact there "had been no talk of rehabilitation, of cure, of someday sending these people out into the world again. No one had spoken of hope. The feeling was of living death..." His visit leaves him with a hopeless feeling that "I may soon be coming to Warren, to spend the rest of my life wit h the others ---waiting." July 15 Charlie is eager, but at the same time apprehensive, about visiting his mother. His uncertainty about his future also adds pressure. Algernon is getting worse. He refuses to run the maze and wont even eat. Watching Burt force-feed him, Charlie gags and has to run out of the lab for fresh air. He starts drinking in order to escape from the situation and his relationship with Fay sours. He feels theres just dancing, painting and sex in her life, of which they share only sex. Fay is also becoming possessive about him. Eventually, Charlie decides to cut down on his drinking. July 16 Something that Charlie has always avoided happens. Fay and Alice meet - without any fireworks! Alice worries about Algernons regression and therefore comes to comfort Charlie. As they sit talking late, Fay appears via the fire escape. The two women size up each other, then get absorbed in talking, until Charlie feels unwanted. Later, Alice tells Charlie that Fay loves him. Charlie denies it but he does not deny their sexual relationship. He insists that he loves only Alice, which is why he cant make love to her. Alice goes home. July 27 Charlie concentrates on his work with desperate urgency. To Fays disgust, he even moves a cot into the lab. He busily makes notes on "the calculus of intelligence" and only the cages and mice and lab seem real to him. Fay withdraws, jealous of his obsession with work. Alice helps him now, with food and coffee, making no demands. Charlie is aware of a heightened perception, where concentration and judgement are hypersensitive and acute. Algernon lies almost unmoving in the lab, and his condition worsens all the time. July 28

Fay has a new lover. Charlie says, "Its almost a relief." He moves back to the lab and to Algernon. The white mouse greets him and seems eager to work. He solves the maze twice, but fails the third time. Then he goes into a wild frenzy, until, exhausted, he curls up into a tight ball. Charlie is desperate to understand why, not only to help himself, but in order to add even a scrap of knowledge to the work that has already been done. If he can do this and help others like myself, he feels he will have lived a thousand normal lives. July 31 Charlie is filled with a joyful, bubbling energy and a zest for work. This disturbs the others who think hes, "killing himself at that pace." He hopes that he will be able to get the knowledge he needs in order to make a breakthrough. He finds out that, Fays lover is a dance instructor at her favorite dance hall. However, it doesnt bother him. August 11 Charlie reaches a blind alley in his reasoning. He cant answer the question about how Algernons regression affects the basis of the experiment. He decides to leave it for now, as pushing too hard makes his mind go blank. He goes to Mrs. Nemurs cocktail party. Fay refuses his invitation to accompany him. Charlie feels isolated among the academicians and their financiers. Mrs. Nemur baits him about working on the ideas of others, like her husband. Charlie is annoyed with the discussion between Strauss and a sponsor, and is steered away by Strauss, just when he is about to interrupt the discussion. Charlie decides to sit quietly in a corner, but hes had too many drinks. He begins muttering to himself, quite unaware of others reactions. The guests trickle away, and Nemur confronts Charlie, furious at his behavior. The two argue and Nemur calls him an arrogant, self-centered, antisocial bastard. Charlie accuses Nemur of treating him as an experimental animal, "to be kept in a cage and displayed when necessary to reap the honors you seek." He says that he was better off before the operation as he then had friends. He feels that intelligence without the capacity to give and receive affection is sterile. He speaks of "Charlie Gordon" as another person waiting patiently inside himself. In the middle of his "sermon," Charlies speech becomes slurred, his language becomes limited, and the old Charlie is back. He makes it to the bathroom just on time, and manages to get control of himself. Finally, he insists on walking home alone. While in the bathroom he looks into the mirror, to find the other Charlie looking questioningly at him. Charlie raves at his other self, asserting that he wont give up his intelligence without a struggle, "Im going to keep what theyve given me and do great things for the world and for other people like you." He then leaves for home. Alone, he admits to himself that he has become what Nemur has called him, and is therefore ashamed of himself. He seeks Fays company but she is with her new lover. Charlie goes to bed and dozes off. Suddenly at 4.30 a.m, the answer to all his queries comes to him, and he is wide-awake! August 26

Charlie discovers that, "artificially-induced intelligence deteriorates at a rate of time directly proportional to the quantity of the increase." He writes a letter to Prof. Nemur stating this and encloses all his notes and mathematical analyses of data. He also christens his discovery as the Algernon-Gordon Effect. Charlie also apologizes for the fact that, through his discovery, he is negating the work done by the researchers. After sending it, he turns to his immediate problem-what is to become of himself? For the purpose of verification, Nemur sends Charlies report to the top men in the field, but Charlie is confident about his findings. He tells Alice about his discovery and she breaks down. Charlie is concerned that, she should not feel guilty about his fate. September 2 Charlie is in a state of suspense. All he can do is wait. He once again says that he does not blame anyone, as the researchers had taken every precaution in order to make sure that there is no physical danger. However, they had failed to foresee the psychological pitfalls. Charlies main concern now is, how much he can retain in the future. September 15 Nemurs sources confirm Charlies findings. Charlie recommends that no further tests be conducted on human beings until their bases are clear. He feels that, the line of research favoring the study of enzyme imbalances, and treatment with hormone substitutes, probably has the best potential. He would like to help follow it up, but he knows that time is running out. September 17 Charlie finds himself becoming forgetful and irritable. Early one morning, he comes to the lab and finds Algernon dead in one corner of his cage. Dissection reveals that his brain had shrunk and the cerebral convolutions and smoothened out. Charlie is terribly afraid the same is happening to him. He puts Algernons body in a small box and buries him in his back garden. He weeps as he puts wild flowers on his grave. September 21 He cant put off the visit to his mother any more. He begins to dream of her, and feels that he must understand her and not hate her. He decides to visit her the next day, and that he would "come to terms with her" before he sees so, " I wont act harshly or foolishly." September 27 Charlie goes back to his childhood home in Marks Street. The first shock is that, it's a poor and shabby neighborhood. There are no children playing, only "old people standing in the shade of tired porches." Then he sees an old woman in a shabby brown sweater, washing her windows from outside the house, even in the cold wind. She is old and weak

- far from the way he had imagined his mother. He stands staring. When she questions him, all he can say is "Maaaa," forgetting all the words he had mastered in a dozen languages. She recognizes him, is shocked, and he moves towards her. She retreats into the house and Charlie follows her. As he pushes the door open, he gashes his hand on the broken glass. Charlie tell her about the operation and and why he has come to meet her. As she listens to him, transfixed, he says, "You can be proud of me now and tell all the neighbors. You dont have to hide me in the cellar when company comes. Just talk to me. Tell me about things, the way it was when I was a little boy thats all I want." She sees his bleeding hand and offers to wash it. Clicking her tongue at his clumsiness, she slips back twenty-five years-"Charlie, Charlie, always getting yourself into a mess---" She apologizes for the "mess in the house," saying that she wasnt expecting company, asks if he has come about the electric bill and promises to pay it soon. He asks her whether she has any children apart from the daughter, who is out at work. She says that she had a brilliant son, until someone put the evil eye on him - "They called it the I.Q. but it was the evil-I.Q." Then she starts scrubbing the already clean floor. Then suddenly, she turns to him joyfully wondering how he had changed and thanking God for answering her prayers. Finally she weeps in his arms, "All the pain was washed away and I was glad I had come." Charlie gives her a copy of his report and promises to write and send money. Norma returns home, just as he is about to leave. Norma recognizes him at once. Charlie is surprised to see that she has changed. Shes warm and affectionate, not the spoiled brat that he remembers. She says how proud shes been of reports about him in the press, and how she had shown them to her colleagues at the office. She wants him to eat with her and swap news. She informs Charlie that their mother is senile, but she doesnt want to put her in an institution as the doctor has advised. Charlie asks Norma to clarify childhood memories and she weeps over how mean she had been to him. She explains that, unlike him, she was always under the pressure to excel at everything and this is what had made her resent him. The other children had harassed her too, calling her, "morons sister," and leaving her out from birthday parties. She cries with shame and remorse about how she had treated him. She feels a fresh guilt that Charlie had been sent away for her sake. Charlie himself feels a new compassion and acceptance, of his familys actions towards him. He tells his sister, "Dont blame yourself. It must have been hard to face the other kids. For me, this kitchen was my world ----you had to face the rest of the world." Norma pours out her daily fears for her mothers safety, her sole responsibility for the two of them, with no one to share it with. Charlie is struck by the irony of the situation. He had always wanted to be "the big brother." Now when he is needed for the role, he does not know whether he has the time to fulfill the role. While brother and sister are comforting each other, the mother suddenly picks up a knife and raves at Charlie for "looking at his sister with sex in is mind." Both are horrified and Charlie explains that this is why he had been sent away, for Normas safety, at least as it appeared to their mother. "I must not hate Rose for protecting Norma. I must understand the way she saw it. Unless I forgive her, I will have nothing." - Charlie takes his leave without making promises, except to send money for as long as possible. He suppresses

his tears until he is out of the house and then loses control. The old rhyme, "Three blind mice" runs through his mind, illuminating their unhappy state. He looks back and imagines his own childish face peering out from the window. Notes This chapter brings Charlie to the acceptance of his mental regression. He is magnetically drawn to the Warren Home, which he feels is his inevitable home. In a way, the visit shows him the human face of the home - its handful of sincerely dedicated staff struggling to give a human aspect to the lives of those society cant face or deal with. From fear and revulsion, Charlie moves towards unwilling acceptance of the Home and it's conditions. He aches for the sad-faced inmates of whom he will soon be one. The author doesnt pin the blame for the treatment of the physically or mentally handicapped on any person or agency, but he shows everybody as uncaring and selfish. Another event that he had feared had been a possible meeting of Alice and Fay. It now takes place without fanfare, and he realizes they like each other. Charlie tells Alice that he loves her, but at this stage, he still keeps his distance from her. Meanwhile, he admits that, "by keeping the secret about myself, I had somehow not committed myself to Fay completely." The divided mind makes it impossible for Charlie to really commit himself to anyone, since he doesnt know what his "self" really is! Thus, he tries to make love to Alice by trying to pretend that she is Fay. Later, he makes love to Fay, "but kept thinking of Alice." These tensions however pale beside the dominant one, that is, the possibility of his regression. So he devotes himself entirely to work. Even there, he hovers on the edge of his major finding, but is unable to get there. He realizes or rather makes his discovery only after his major rave with Nemur. The frank speech on both sides clears his thinking. He honestly admits to himself, that Nemur is right about his (Charlie) arrogance and selfishness. Charlie realizes that love and the sharing of affection is central to life, more so than intelligence. He also realizes that the "old" Charlie is still within him, waiting. He decides not to give up his new found intelligence without a fight, not to give it up until he has completed the work he has taken on. Armed with this awareness, his mind is unlocked and he is able to discover what exactly has gone wrong with the experiments on Algernon and himself. Charlie is able to meet his mother with a changed attitude, without "acting harshly or foolishly." The visit is an eyeopener. His mother is an old sad woman, and Norma an over-burdened, lonely one. Charlie is now able to see things from his mothers perspective and is therefore able to forgive her. His inability to say anything except "Maaa..." when he first meets his mother, underlines how the child is ever-present in an individual, and the fact that need for love and acceptance from ones family is a basic need. It is an intensely emotional chapter, culminating in Normas leaning against him, and saying how much they need him - a need which Charlie would have given anything to fulfill.

In this chapter Charlie makes the discovery of his life, which signals his own doom. He accepts his own failings and his fate and finally makes peace with his family. With the death of Algernon, the end of the "intelligent" Charlie is fore shadowed. Progress Report 17 Summary October 3 Charlie is going downhill. He is depressed and thinks of suicide. Then thoughts of the "other" Charlie make him ashamed - "His life is not mine to throw away. Ive just borrowed it for a while and now Im being asked to return it." He keeps reminding himself hes the only person to have such experiences and realizes that he must document them as his contribution to mankind. Charlie works very hard and avoids sleep. He plays loud music in order to keep awake and the neighbors call the police. His relationship with them becomes hostile, but he doesnt even notice the change. October 4 Charlie has an abrasive session of therapy with Strauss. Charlie is irritable and constantly tries to provoke Strauss. He compares him to a barber who gives "ego shampoos," and asks whether an "idiot" can have an "id?" Strauss lets him rave, and refuses to be provoked. Charlie lies back on his couch and has a strange experience. He sees "a bluewhite glow from the walls and the ceiling gathering into a shimmering ball...forcing itself into my brain...and my eyes.... I have the feeling of floating...and yet without looking down I know my body is still here on the couch..." He feels as if he is released from the earth. "And then, as I know I am about to pierce the crust of existence, like a flying fish leaping out of the sea, I feel the pull from below." Unwillingly, Charlie is pulled back to earth and comes to consciousness. He wonders whether it is a hallucination or is it the kind of experience described by the mystics? He returns to reality feeling as if he is being thrown against the walls of a cave, beyond which is a "holy light" which is more than he can bear. He is filled with "pain" and "coldness and nausea" and he screams. Charlie ends the therapy session, telling Strauss that he wont come back. He is immensely depressed and is haunted by Platos words, "--the men of the cave would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes..." They seem to reflect the bizarre see-saw that his life has been, and the dreaded shrinking of his intelligence. October 5 Charlie still struggles with his reports. He goes unwillingly to the Beekman lab, as he feels that he owes it to the team there. But, he balks at the grind of the same old mazes he used to do with Algernon. He notices that it is taking him much longer now than it did before to solve a maze. Burt puts him through the Rorschach inkblots, but he realizes that

he has forgotten what to do. He becomes incoherent, then tells Burt that he is not a guinea pig and therefore should be left alone. He rejects Burts sympathy saying, "we dont happen to belong on the same level. I passed your floor on the way up and now Im passing it on the way down, and I dont think Ill be taking this elevator again." He then rushes out of the university. October 7 Strauss visits Charlie but Charlie refuses to open the door to him. Charlie tries to read Paradise Lost which he loved, but he cant make sense of it. He relives the awful past when his mother had tried to teach him reading and had threatened to beat it into him until he learns. In anguish, Charlie breaks the binding and rips the pages out. He leaves it lying on the floor "its torn white tongues were laughing because I couldnt understand what they were saying." He prays, "Ive got to try to hold onto some of the things Ive learned. Please God, dont take it all away." October 10 Charlie wanders about at night, aimlessly. He first stands on the streets, looking "at faces." Once, a policeman takes him home when he is lost. Another time, a pimp cheats him of ten dollars. October 11 One morning, Charlie walks home to find Alice asleep there. She refuses all attempts to put her off, and insists that she has come, "because theres still time. And I want to spend it with you." Charlie says theres only enough time for him to spend with himself. She refuses to pity him, saying that, the future "was no secret" and intellectually, he is at her level now. She reaches out determinedly and this time the psychological barriers dont go up. Charlie loves her "with more than my body." He feels he has "unwound the string she had given me, and found my way out of the labyrinth to where she was." This sexual experience is not simple - "it was being lifted off the earth, outside fear and torment, being part of something greater than myself. ... We merged to re-create and perpetuate the human spirit." It reminds him of the strange vision he had experienced during his therapy with Strauss. He finds a kind of comfort in knowing that what they have, "is more than most people find in a lifetime." October 14 Alice and Charlie go to a concert, but he finds he cant pay attention for long. Alices presence is a "bad thing" because it makes him feel that he should fight his fate, "freeze" himself at this level, and not lose her. October 17 Alice tells Charlie he has blank spells when he lies around for days and doesnt know her.

He knows it is inevitable, but he cant help wondering if he can fight the regression, fight against becoming like all those at the Warren Home, like Charlie Gordon as he was. Charlie is in torment as he thinks about all this. October 18 Charlie wants to look up some reference in his Report on the "Algernon-Gordon Effect" and discovers that, he cant even understand the report any more. He is suffering and is angry at everything. Alices attempts to care for him and keep his home clean enrage him. The more she humors him, the wilder he gets remembering how the staff at the Warren home patiently humored the inmates. Charlie however is repentant when Alice weeps. October 19 Charlies physical activity is getting affected. He blames Alice and prefers to think that her rearrangements are to blame. She responds with patience and pity and this irritates him further. The only thing he enjoys now is the T.V, which he watches all day and night. It is the "window" through which he is doomed to watch life, always as the observer. He is disgusted at giving in to drugging himself, "with this dishonest stuff thats aimed at the child in me. Especially me, because the child in me is reclaiming my mind." Yet, he wants to forget everything that has happened to him as well. On finding a German research paper he had used in his work, he is shattered to find that he can no longer read German. All the languages he had learnt have been wiped clean from his mind! October 21 After a constant struggle over the deliberate mess he had made of his apartment, Alice and Charlie have a final rave. Alice charges him with "wallowing in his own filth and self-pity," of mindlessly watching T.V and of snarling at people. She tells him that he was loved and respected more when he was retarded, and had a sense of humor. Charlie finds it increasingly hard to understand what she is saying. He accuses her of pushing him as his mother used to, and asks to be left alone now that he is "falling apart." Alice breaks down, then packs her bags and leaves. October 25 Charlie cant type any more. He broods over what Alice has said and decides that, if he keeps learning new things while forgetting old ones, he may not sink so fast. He starts reading feverishly at the library, hoping "to keep moving upward, no matter what happened." Strauss comes to see him. Charlie says that he can look after himself, and when he feels he cant, hell board a train for the Warren Home. Fay now avoids him, she seems afraid of him. Only Mrs. Mooney, the landlady, visits him with hot food. Charlie is sure that Strauss or Alice must have asked her to do so. November 1

Charlie reads, irrespective of the fact, whether or not he can understand. He reads "Don Quixote" and has a constant feeling that he knew the meaning behind the windmills, the castles and the dragons, but he cant remember. He watches people from his window, and lies in bed most of the time. He now finds it difficult to write the progress reports.

November 2 Charlie says that, every night he watches a woman in the building across the road, having a bath. He never sees her face, but admits that her body excites him. He admits that it is wrong to watch, but then tells himself that, it does not matter as she doesnt know that he is watching. November 5 Mrs. Mooney worries about Charlies apathy and tells him not to lie around like a "loafter." He tells her that, he thinks hes sick. The weather is cold, but he still puts flowers on Algernons grave, which Mrs. Mooney thinks, is a very silly thing to do. Charlie goes to visit Fay, but she asks him to go away and later changes the lock on her door. November 9 It is Sunday. Charlie has nothing to do as his T.V has broken down and he has forgotten to have it fixed. He has also lost his monthly cheque from the college. Life is bleak - he gets constant headaches and Mrs. Mooney is his only friend. The lady across the road now pulls her windowshade down and therefore he is unable to see her. Charlie therefore feels cheated. November 10 Mrs. Mooney calls in a new doctor, who asks Charlie about his family. Charlie tells him about Algernon and how they used to race together. He also tells the doctor that he used to be a genius and this amuses the doctor. Charlie is angry that, the doctor is making fun of him and therefore chases him out. Charlie believes that he is having bad luck, since he has lost his "rabits foot and my horshoe." November 11 Strauss and Alice come to meet Charlie but he sends them away. Later, Mrs. Mooney brings food and tells him that they have given her money to take care of him. Charlie is upset and wishes he could get work as he "wont take charety from anybody." He thinks

of going back to the bakery because that is the only work he knows, but he is afraid that those at the bakery will laugh at him. November 15 Charlie cant read some of his old progress reports. "I think I wrote them but I dont remember so good." He has bought some books from the drug store but he feels tired when he tries to read them. The only books he likes are the ones, which show pictures of pretty girls. But the feelings they arouse are "not nice," so he decides not to buy them any more. November 16 Alice comes to the door. They both weep, but Charlie still sends her away "because I didnt want her to laff at me." He tells her that he doesnt like her nor does he want to become smart. But he later admits to himself that this is not true but, he had to say this so that she would go away. Mrs. Mooney tells Charlie that, Alice has given her some more money to look after him. Charlie does not like this and decides to take up a job soon. He prays that, he doesnt forget, "how to reed and rite." November 18 Charlie goes back to Donner for his old job at the bakery. Donner is very sad and employs him. Seeing him alone, a new worker, Meyer Klaus, harasses him by twisting his arm. Charlie tries to free himself but is unable to do so. He dirties his pants and cries with humiliation. Then Joe comes to his rescue. When Charlie returns after cleaning himself in the toilet, he overhears Frank, Joe and Gimpy talking among themselves about asking Mr. Donner to fire Klaus. Charlie doesnt want that, because he remembers that he had hated it when he was sacked from Donners. Gimpy tells Charlie that he and the others will protect him if anyone bothers him. Charlie muses, "It's good to have frends." November 21 Charlie wanders into Alices class at the adult center. "I said hello Miss Kinnian Im redy for my lessen today only I lossed the book we was using." She runs out crying and Charlie says to himself, "I reely pulled a Charlie Gordon that time." He leaves the class. After this, he decides to leave for the Warren Home, as hes afraid of doing something embarrassing again. He doesnt want everyone to feel sorry for him. He plans to take a few books and practise hard saying, "may be Ill even get a littel bit smarter than I was before the operashun without an operashun." He also takes with him a new "rabits foot and a luky penny and even a littel bit of that majic powder left and maybe they will help me." He appeals to "Miss Kinnian" not to feel sorry for him as "Im glad I got a second chanse in life like you said to be smart." "Now I know I had a family and I was a person just like

everyone." Even now, he hopes to get "a litel smarter" and remembers the joy that he had felt on reading, "the blue book with the toren cover." He remembers the man who tore the book as looking like him but then he feels that it couldnt be him, as he had seen the man through the window. He knows that he is the "first dumb person who found out something important for sience," but he cant remember what it was. He ends his progress report, saying goodbye to Miss Kinnian and Dr. Strauss, telling them to ask Prof. Nemur not to be "such a grouch." He also asks them to put some flowers on Algernons grave. Notes Charlie has already accepted that he can only move downwards now. The suffering of Algernon has made that amply clear. Yet, the day to day agony, facing the petty irritants of a meaningless routine with nothing to hope for, is well documented in this chapter. He faces his return to a retarded state with dread and the attraction towards death is very strong. The "strange experience" he has on Strauss couch represents this. The longing to be released from earth, free "like a flying fish leaping out of the sea," but the claims of the "old Charlie Gordon" are too strong. The novel has constantly dwelt on this dichotomy into two selves that exists within Charlie Gordon. Now, the "genius" Charlie feels he has only borrowed the "retarded" Charlies body and has to return it to him. That he is a person in his own right, in many ways a better human being than most, has been a continued message in the book. The lab sessions document the agony of a person, who knows that his mind is failing, but is helpless to prevent it. The author reveals Charlies pain with sensitivity, and makes it a universal experience. It could be any person with a mental or psychological condition, or Parkinsons disease or simply the tragedy of old age. The continuing loneliness of the human being, made ever worse by a degeneration process, is chilling as is shown in the novel. The rest of the chapter shows the unavoidable severing of personal ties, with Fay, with Strauss and Burt and even the people at the bakery. The only bright spot is that when his powers are failing, Charlies inhibitions with Alice are swept away. They finally unite sexually; a merging made more poignant by the knowledge that it can only be for a short while. The form of the novel has come full circle, with the earlier jerky miss-spelt sentences and words resurfacing, as Charlies downslide progresses. Charlie is transformed slowly and painfully from the lively, rebellious intellectual to the old Charlie - always watching the lives of others from his window. However, the idea that, having lived so fully, Charlie will again slide into his old attitudes and life-style is less convincing. Earlier, he had not known what possibility life could hold. Now, having experienced them so vitally, could he resign himself so smoothly to perpetually living at a sub-human level, peeping at naked women, reading picture books and "girlie magazines?" Except for this possible weakness, the author awakens an exceptional empathy in the reader for Charlie, always a victim but struggling to the end for self-respect and acceptance from society.

OVERALL ANALYSIS CHARACTER ANALYSIS Charlie Gordon The character of Charlie Gordon, a young retarded adult, and the changes in him as a result of a daring experimental operation, is the nucleus of the novel. When the book opens, Charlie is thirty-two, lives alone, and works as a lowly cleaner in a bakery. He owes his job only to his uncles lifelong friendship with the kind owner. Charlie is the butt of crude jokes by the worst of the bakery workers, but is treated kindly by the others. He is "happy," in a way with all these people whom he considers "smart," and he enjoys laughing with them, even when most of the laughter is against him. At this stage the only signs of unhappiness are the fact that Charlie scarcely seems to remember anything of his family, which has abandoned him, and his anxiety to learn and be "smart." This drives him to enroll in a special class, which he attends after a long day of drudgery at the bakery. Otherwise, he seems happy to entertain and be patronized by the co-workers at the bakery, which is his "world." Though he is thirty-two, there isnt any sign of sexual frustration, with the few women in his life - Fanny Berden, Miss Kinnian, playing nearmaternal roles. It is the gusto with which he asks for the operation, never mind the risks he is told about, which gets him apart from other retarded people. The surgery then brings a radical change in his life. Before the operation, Charlie is childlike, eager to please and have friends and willing to work hard. He thinks wistfully that he would like to be "smart like other pepul" so that they would treat him as an equal. The operation changes him gradually. Soon, he is critical of people around him, especially of the research team, which has treated him as a "guineapig." He doesnt appreciate decisions being made for him, but he revels in the intellectual powers the surgical changes have given him. He is masters a dozen languages, and at least as many subjects - including literature, music, psychology, maths and linguistics, among others. Unfortunately, the progress from sub-normal intelligence to genius disrupts his life in many ways. It makes him unfit for his earlier job and companions, even for the girl he loves, Alice Kinnian. It makes him very suspicious of the experimental team, as he can understand how little they know of the subject, and it arouses long-buried hurt and resentment against the horrible treatment meted out to him by his family. This and the high degree of knowledge he is able to achieve in a short time make Charlie, by his own admission, arrogant, opinionated and selfish. Charlie is frustrated in his love affair because of the suppression of his sexuality, by his mother, in his adolescence. Though his rational mind knows he had the right, and his feelings are returned, Charlie can never achieve complete intimacy with Alice, until it is

almost too late. But, he is able to have a passionate, but less intense, relationship with Fay, his Bohemian neighbor. Yet, Charlie is shown almost to be making use of both women, without giving back much. He is too troubled, unsure of his own identity, to be truly committed to anyone else. His discovery of the defective nature of the experimented surgery adds to his insecurity. Another aspect of this is his constant awareness of two Charlies and the feeling that, the old Charlie has just "loaned" the use of his body to the new one. After drinking with Fay, and at Nemurs party, the old Charlie surfaces. This increases the new Charlies uncertainty about, who he is. His fear of being haunted by his old self drives him to seek out his family, whose rejection of him has been so traumatic. After his return home, he comes to terms with his mother and sister as unhappy human beings, who had acted the way they did because of social compulsions. He also accepts that the old Charlie is part of himself, and will be the whole of himself when his intelligence leaves him. Charlie goes through immense agony before he can accept these things. Agony he would never have known with his earlier low I.Q. He has a lively love affair with one woman, Fay, but his enduring love is only for Alice Kinnian who knows his past, present, and future, and had cherished him when he was alone. Through his research, he has known the excitement of intellectual discovery and the tragic fulfillment of being able to predict his own regression. Having had all this, Charlie keeps his dignity and humanity, and accepts his tragic end with grace. The author makes the readers share the thrill of Charlies expanding intelligence and the anguish of his regression in equal measure. Alice Kinnian Alice and Fay are to an extent, archetypes. Alice is the nurturing, maternal type of woman. Initially, she is just the kind "Miss Kinnian"-ageless and almost sexless to the retarded Charlie. When the operation on Charlie is being considered, Alice constantly worries about its consequences, in spite of Charlies eagerness to go ahead. Yet, she is always close building up his confidence, yet cautioning him against getting involved with her, while he is still changing rapidly. She points out, "when you mature emotionally, you may not even want me. Ive got to think of myself too." Yet, she goes to an open-air concert with him. She responds to his love making there, but with reservations, until his other repressed self intrudes and inhibits him. Knowing there is no future for them, Alice does not withhold her friendship from Charlie. But, she is reserved about loving him. She tries to soothe his fears about his abnormal situation and explains "Youre a new swimmer, forced off a diving raft and terrified of losing the solid wood under your feet." Yet, Alice is not one-dimensional. She is ill at ease with Charlies changing intellect and personality, and does not conceal it - "There was something in you before... a warmth, an openness, a kindness that made everyone like you and like to have you around. Now with all your intelligence and knowledge, there are differences..." She says frankly that after their meetings - "I go home with the miserable feeling that Im slow and dense about

everything. ...I wanted to help you and share with you-and now youve shut me out of your life." She knows that hes as far away from her with an I.Q. of 185 as he was when his I.Q. was just 68. While Alice is torn between her own conventional and more modern tendencies, she doesnt give up on Charlie, even during his involvement with Fay. She overcomes her resentment of Fay, and tells Charlie that she is good for him. When Charlie is deep in his research, Alice is the perfect helpmate, who brings him sandwiches and coffee and does not make any demands. Finally, when Charlies mind is regressing and he is lonelier than ever, Alice puts aside past quarrels and comes to him. She withstands all his efforts to repel her and takes an assertive role in making love, until at last, Charlie can overcome his past and achieve fulfillment with her. Alice doesnt let him give up easily, but demands that he fight his lethargy. When Charlie cant take this, he drives her out. In the end, she once again becomes "Miss Kinnian" for him. In his pride, he doesnt let her get closer, yet she continues to see to his well being through his landlady. Charlie acknowledges this in his last report, bidding farewell to his friends. In sum, Alice is drawn as an ideal lover and helpmate. The readers rarely see anything of her life other than the way she relates to Charlie. Even her suffering is shown only in relation to him. Fay Lillman Charlies neighbor is the anti-thesis of Alice. In her mid-thirties, she is artistic and unconventional. Charlies first sight of her is that of "a slender blonde in pink bra and panties," standing and painting at an easel. Quite undisturbed by her semi-nudity, she invites him in and asks him to sit amidst all the messy clutter of her room. Charlie discovers that she paints nudes, is divorced, drinks and dances at all times of day or night. "Shes been around" as Charlie discovers, and this both fascinates him and does away with his sexual inhibitions. Her own approach to sex is casual but enthusiastic, and Charlie feels she is just what he needs. Here too, his needs are paramount and Fay is more and less, just the means to fulfill them. Yet, he cant help liking her as a human being, especially her fearless friendliness and lack of curiosity about him. Yet Fay is independent and makes her own set of values - "I dont see that because I let a guy bring me home Ive got to go to bed with him." When she invites a down-and-out woman home, she is robbed of her months allowance. But with quick generosity, she forgives and forgets, believing that the other woman must have needed the money more than she did! Fay is frightened when a drunken Charlie behaves like the "old Charlie," but she doesnt leave him alone all night, as she fears that he might harm himself. Charlie is thus as much attracted by her zest for life and her novelty among his circle, as by her sexual appeal. However, he never confides in her about himself or his past, and the relationship remains superficial. Once he is absorbed in his work, Fay becomes jealous and bored with him. As his condition worsens, she goes off with a series of lovers and snubs him when he

tries to approach her. Thus, Fay is seen as Alices opposite, but like her, is never allowed to develop into a really rounded character. Rose Gordon, Matt Gordon & Norma Charlies mother isnt introduced in the novel, until after the operation. Then Charlie lets the readers know that his mother had taught him to pray to God "a lot when I was a kid that he shoud make me get better and not be sick." Then he mentions "Miss Kinnian was a nice lady like my mother use to be." The first clear memory that Charlie has of his mother is when she returned home from hospital with his new baby sister, after which her entire attitude to him changed. After this, she is revealed in a series of vivid and disturbing flashes of memory. She haunts Charlie still in his permanent feeling of rejection and his repressed behavior with women. The readers see her intense involvement in Charlies welfare as a young child. She even attacks the teacher who suggests that they move him to a special school, saying. She wont let him play as he likes but drives him to learn various things; to read and write, to got to the bathroom by himself. Charlie remembers her as soft and warm but this changes after Normas birth. Charlie recalls, "Norma showed all signs of normal intelligence, my mothers voice began to sound different. Not only her voice, but her touch, her look, her very presence - all changed. It was as if her magnetic poles had reversed and where they had once attracted now repelled." This repulsion becomes an obsessive concern for Norma who must have the best of everything. Charlie is denied outings, pets, and is hidden away from "company" and the outside world. In all this, Charlie only remembers Matt, his father, as a protective influence, constantly pointing out injustice, attempting to curb Normas rudeness to her brother, and desperately trying to control his wifes hysteria. Charlie remembers his father warning Rose not to drive Charlie too much but accept and love him as he is. In later years, he tries to reason with her, to reduce her obsessive fears for Normas safety. Matts is therefore the voice of reason and acceptance, which is never allowed to prevail before Roses stronger will. Another difference between the parents is the fathers working class, laid-back attitude towards social behaviour. Rose, on the other hand, has middle-class aspirations. This is seen in her constant desire to keep everything impossibly clean, to make her children "amount to something." Rose screams at Matts dream of having his own barbershop, by saying, "that a sales man was at least a dignified occupation, but she would never have a barber for a husband." Matt gives in for some time, but he can never live up to Roses dreams. Neither can Charlie, who becomes a serious obstacle in her path. Charlies adolescence becomes a new terror for her. She fears that he may sexually assault either a girl visitor or his own sister. On finding him observing Norma dressing, she chases him with a leather belt and threatens to put him away in a cage, for life. Charlie leaves his home the night, Rose picks up a knife and demands that Matt take

Charlie away, that moment, to the Warren home, for good. Alternately, she argues that hes better off dead. Fearing her hysteria, Matt takes him away to Uncle Hermann. Later, Matt himself walks out on his wife and daughter, and buys the barbershop that he had always longed for. Years later, after the operation, Charlie finds Matt at the barbershop. He hasnt changed much. He is now at peace with himself although he is not prosperous. Charlies dreaded meeting with his mother reveals her as a helpless and senile woman, a source of constant worry to his sister Norma. Norma herself is overburdened and lonely, worn out between her work and caring for her mother. The rational Charlie forgives Norma for all her cruelty to him, in their childhood. His mothers pride on hearing of his achievements is balm to his old wounds. Even then, her feelings towards him are divided, the senile mind veering between maternal pride and suspicion. Through Roses character, the author depicts the characteristics of the families with handicapped children - the inability to accept the handicap, denial of its existence, or rejection. The situation becomes more difficult when the resources are scarce. Charlie understands this in later life, but he will always bear the emotional scars of the denial of love when he needed it the most. On the positive side, Charlie realizes that he owes his tremendous motivation to learn and improve, to his mothers training. Some of the most vivid and disturbing passages in the novel are the ones dealing with the Gordon family. Harold Nemur & Jay Strauss They are both neuro-surgeons with a psychiatric background and are the senior members of the Beekman research team. Nemur is the more egotistical of the two. Initially, they are simply "the men in white coats," remote and powerful enough to transform Charlies life. Nemurs aim is to create an intellectual superman of a retarded adult. He thinks of it as an act of creation. So far, he has successfully experimented with just one mouse, and is now trying it out with a human subject. Having accepted Charlie, he is scrupulous about explaining to him all the pitfalls of the operation. Charlie, with an I.Q. of just 68 cant observe him critically, but the reader can form an impression through the words used by the researchers-"they will see if they can use me." On the other hand, they make Charlie compete with the white mouse, without even telling him about Algernons "superior" intelligence and the fact that, they explain the dangers of the experiment to a subject who cannot possibly understand the consequences. After the operation, Charlies view of the researchers changes. Their reactions to him change too, especially in Nemurs case. When the "TV" machine is to be installed in Charlies room, he demands to know its effects. Nemur is furious at being questioned by Charlie. Only Strauss is sensitive enough to notice and appreciate the changes in Charlie. Both the researchers have a heated quarrel over the Chicago convention. During this Nemur is revealed as being an ambitious man and a careerist, who is willing to risk the integrity of his research for fame and promotion. Strauss is more concerned about

validating their work and it's reliability, but both are egotistical. Nemur gets very tense as the psychology convention draws closer, and vents this on Charlie. Strauss is closer to Charlie as a person, and understands his changing mind. He asks Charlie to write his reports simply, so people can understand what he has written. He does not dismiss Charlies worries about co-workers at the bakery, but advises him about the steps that he can take. From Nemurs attitude towards him Charlie realizes, "He makes me feel that before the experiment I was not really a human being." Nemur resents the limelight on Charlie, when they go to Chicago for the convention. When Charlie draws him into the discussions, Nemur lectures at length on his technique. This is the moment when Charlie finds out that, Nemur and Strauss are not aware of the new developments, in the field, in Asian countries! Charlie learns that, it is Nemurs wife and her ambition that is driving him to premature publication. He finds that Nemur has "the teachers fear of being surpassed by the student." This is aggravated by the fact that Charlie was not even his student but was a sub-human laboratory specimen! Nemur calls the old Charlie "a feeble-minded shell a burden on the society that must fear his irresponsible behavior." He plays God, behaving as if he has "created" the new intelligent Charlie and has been rewarded with ingratitude. To the end, he does not realize what Charlie means when he says-"the other Charlie who walked in the darkness is still here with us. Inside me." Strauss, on the other hand, understands at once. Strauss, during his therapy sessions, is sympathetic and does not rise to Charlies provocation as he realizes that it is because of his frustration. He also advises Charlie when he is facing a moral dilemma over Gimpy, not like Nemur, who dismisses the problem. Strauss, along with Alice, continues to visit and support Charlie till the end of the novel, when Charlie leaves for the Warren State Home. Minor Characters Burt Selden Burt is the member of the team of researchers who experiment on Charlie. He is perhaps the only one who spends time with Charlie. The readers are told that he is kind and speaks slowly, so that he can be understood. Burts character is colorless and not clearly defined. He serves as a medium to express views on his seniors - as when he tells Charlie about Nemurs ambitious wife who pushes him to seek publicity and promotion. Later, when Charlie is bitterly critical of the team at the convention, Burt defends Nemur by saying, "Hes just an ordinary man trying to do a great mans work, while the great men are all busy making bombs." Charlie considers Burt a friend, but Burt thinks nothing wrong in concealing from Charlie, the extent of Algernons decline. Thus, the author underlines the general lack of humility and the aloof bureaucratic attitude, by which scientists distance themselves from those they use, visualizing them as "objects" to works on.

The bakery workers: Frank Reilly, Joe Carp and Gimpy Frank and Joe are important to Charlie, who calls them his good "frends," and wants to become "smart" like them. However, to the reader, they are clearly loutish bullies, whose idea of "fun" is to pick on anyone with a physical or mental handicap. Their favorite game is to kick out Charlies legs from under him, when hes not looking. They exploit his gullibility for laughs. Once, hoping he will sabotage the machine, they egg him on to work the dough-mixer in the regular operators absence. This incident occurs a little after the operation and therefore Charlie masters the task easily. Hes promoted, and his "frends" are mad at him. Only Fanny Berden, a woman worker, is happy for him. Gimpy, the baker, is another of Charlies "frends." He himself has a bad leg and, in his blunt way, is very protective towards Charlie. He is surly and rough, but kind. He is also one of the senior employees, who is trusted by the proprietor. After the operation, Charlie finds Gimpy has been conniving with the customers to cheat Mr. Donner. On being challenged by Charlie, Gimpy turns hostile and nasty. Then most of the workers gang up on Charlie and demand his dismissal. However, towards the end, when Charlie returns to the bakery in a regressing state, they accept him and promise to "look out" for him. Their mixed approach to Charlie is typical of that of many uneducated and unthinking people towards someone with a handicap. Mr Donner The kind proprietor of the bakery is an old friend of Charlies Uncle, Herman. A father figure to Charlie, Donner is one of the old school - a paternal employer who looks after his workers as one looks after his or her family. It is he who rescues Charlie from the Warren State Home where his family dumps him. Acting as Charlies guardian, he gets him a permit to work and live outside the home, and even employs him. However, when the delegation of workers demand Charlies dismissal, as they cant adapt to the "new Charlie," he reluctantly lets him go. Again, he takes back Charlie in his state of regression. Mr. Donner is an idealized figure, one of the few who represents security and warmth in Charlies chaotic life. PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS The novel is arranged in the classical form of tragedy-the heros rise to a state of prominence, then a reversal of his fortunes, and his fall. Yet, there is no tragic flaw or fault, which brings about his downfall. The flaw is in the experimental surgery carried out on him. Thus there is Charlie, thirty-two years old, mentally retarded bakery cleaner who lives alone, and whose whole world is the bakery. His desire for improvement propels him to the special school for slow learners. Here he meets Miss Alice Kinnian, his kindly teacher, who recommends him as the best in his batch to a research team from the Psychology Department. From here on, the readers see Charlie being initiated into the

tortuous routine of psychological testing, followed by surgery. The treatment includes, psychosurgery and enzyme-injection patterns, all intended to study whether an adult with a sub-normal I.Q. can be made into a genius. This experimental treatment comes quite early in the book, and is followed by a lull and then rapid improvement in Charlies mental powers. This results in a traumatic change in Charlies outlook of the world. He sees people around him in a totally different light and now views their actions and statements critically. This is a source of disillusionment for Charlie. To offset this, the readers can experience his thrill in being able to learn several languages, appreciate music and art, and study and master whichever subject takes his fancy. The climax, eagerly awaited by the research team, not so by Charlie, is the psychology convention at Chicago. Charlie and the mouse, Algernon, are dragged into the glare of the limelight, and displayed as public exhibits. At the same time, the petty vanity, and the hasty and superficial attitude of the experimental team, is laid bare. Charlie becomes aware that the methods used on him are defective, which have already started showing signs of failure in Algernons case. He releases the mouse and escapes with him in the melee that follows. Now, Charlie is thrown back on his own resources, and has to find his own way in the outside world. He does this with courage, struggles with his changing identity and two love affairs, and decides to devote himself to finding out the errors in the surgery carried out on him and Algernon. By the end of the book, Charlie has found his answer and is now faced with the possibility of his regression, which he accepts with great dignity. At the end, the old retarded Charlie is back, but he has retained his guts and his self-respect. POINT OF VIEW / AUTHORS STYLE The novel uses the technique of first person narrative. This, against the narrators background of retardation, makes the novel technically complex and rich. One can see peoples changing perceptions of him and his of the people around him. His world enlarges as his mind develops. Long-suppressed memories of his traumatic childhood and adolescence emerge from the mists, and this is intermittent, and in the stream-ofconsciousness mode. Thus, small incidents in the present trigger-off childhood memories of his family, which are sometimes pleasant, but are most often, frightening. His parents quarreling over him, things he was forbidden to do, his sisters tantrums, and his mothers hysterical and cruel rejection of him - these are the subject matters of vivid and dream like scenes of his past, which the author inserts into his present life. These scenes then link up with his present actions and problems and help to explain them, not only to the reader, but also to the protagonist himself. That all this is done without interference by an omniscient author makes it far more effective. It also has a structure, which lends itself to easy adaptation for cinema, which was in fact done. Another important feature of the style is the Project Report format. The arrangement of chapters presented as Reports by Charlie to the research team allows for interesting variations in length and complexity as the Narrators intelligence slowly expands, and later shrinks. The ideas and the language used also reflect these changes.

THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS An Understanding of Self In first-person narratives, the narrator may play one of two types of roles. He may be a low profile, colorless character, who acts as a medium to convey the actions of others around him who are more dramatic and colorful. Alternately, he may be one of the central characters in the literary work. Charlie belongs to the latter category. What makes him stand out is that he doesnt know who he really is. The Charlie with an I.Q. of 68 is wildly different from the one who is a genius. The person considered sub-human by his surgeons goes on to become the one, capable of detecting the errors in their work. The Charlie, who was forbidden by his mother to even look at a girl with sex in his mind, finds that there are two women who find him attractive, but he cant deal with the change. How Charlie charts his passage through the strange territory into which his operation throws him, is one of the themes of the novel. Before the operation, Charlie longed to "be smart and have lots of frends." Afterwards, he finds himself looking at the old "frends" with new eyes and gradually getting alienated from them. His conscious mind doesnt remember much about his family, but he has constant flashes of memory about them, and their rejection of him. Thus, Charlie after the operation is lonelier than ever before. He then uses his new powers to understand the new, larger world before him. He equips himself with a variety of knowledge. Yet, close personal ties evade him. Charlies earlier dependence on Miss Kinnian has developed into love. He is conscious of this, but cant bring his feelings to sexual completion. He realizes this is due to his mothers forceful conditioning in early days. He then attempts to achieve sexual fulfillment and friendship with Fay. This works for sometime, but Fay does not know the real Charlie. Charlie doesnt ever commit himself to the point of telling her about himself, and she drifts away. At the climax, Charlie has the revelation that the experiment is defective and will definitely fail. He then escapes with Algernon and works feverishly till he has the answer to the puzzle, that is, how the treatment has failed. With no hope of a future, but with the triumph of achieving his work goal behind him, Charlie seeks out his family and lays his ghosts. He forgives his mother and accepts his sister, who is very happy to see him. His greatest conflict is his divided self. He finally accepts that the "old Charlie" will not go away, and the "new" one has a short life. He strongly feels that the "old Charlie" is a human being who has a right to live. With this understanding, he puts aside the temptation of death. After making peace with his past, he is able to reach Alice, at last, as a lover. They live together for a short time, till his regression takes over, but that is worth "more than most people find in a lifetime." Charlie sinks steadily but keeps his control and admits himself to the Warren Home voluntarily. He concludes, "Im glad I got a second chanse in life like you said to be smart because I lerned a lot of things that I never even new were in this world and Im grateful I saw it all even for a littel bit."

Treatment of the Retarded by Society While the novel is part of the mode of science fiction, it also makes a strong plea for the acceptance of the retarded. The cruelty with which Charlie is treated is all the more painful because he is the one who tells the readers about it and they suffer with him. In his childhood, his high-strung mother slaves over his education, determined to make him "normal," even by force. His fathers softer and more positive influence is subdued. That this is linked with her ego is clear with the birth of a second "normal" child, when she shuts him out totally, and devotes herself to the younger child. The smaller cruelties like not letting him hold the baby, or hiding him in the cellar when visitors call, are painful. But the harsh threat of caging him for life if he shows "sexual" interests in anyone and the final rejection and dumping him at the Home, are traumatic. Her treatment also brings out the worst in Norma, his sister, who rejects him with childish insensitivity. Donners kindness brings him out again into the bakery. But while Donner himself treats him with kindness and respect, Charlie is constantly pushed around by the more insensitive of the workers. Sometimes they are friendly and even protective, but it is a patronizing friendliness, with no respect for the retarded person as a human being. Finally, the researchers, especially Nemur, regard him as the raw material that they can "use" for their work. Nemur considers him an object, a burden on society, and congratulates himself on having "made" him a useful citizen. He expects "gratitude" for what he has done, and cannot understand Charlies suffering when he knows he is losing his intelligence. The novel thus makes a strong plea to the readers to enter into and empathize with the problems of a retarded person and to accept him as a human being, who is different, and needs perhaps more love than the ordinary person. The Theme of Love Charlies overwhelming need for love compels him towards one of the few women who has cared for and cherished him --Alice Kinnian. When his mind develops, he sees her as a young and very attractive woman. That, plus the fact that he can be himself with her, as she knows both his selves, inevitably propels him to love her. Alice too returns his feeling of attraction and even friendship. But, she is wary of anything more because of the rapid changes in him and the feeling that his emotional dependence is not love. Yet she cant cut herself off, in spite of repeated attempts. Their relationship then runs aground because of his sexual repression. They try to step back into friendship and Charlie depends on her support and criticism. Since he cant settle his sexual problems with Alice, he enters into an affair with Fay. Fay, depicted as Alices opposite, being unconventional and sexually permissive, is also

physically attractive to Charlie. She is a vital colorful, strong-willed and outspoken individual. Charlie is initially bowled over physically, but this generous and eccentric woman, so different from his past experience fascinates him. He is aware that he loves Alice, but Fay and he share a mutual attraction. He decides to have an affair with Fay almost as a means to liberate himself. He is close to her, and tries to fulfill some of her conditions but finds her life-style too erratic for him. Besides, he has never considered Fay capable of understanding what he really is. Thus, the affair peters out. He finally achieves fulfillment with Alice, but it is short-lived. His regressing mind resents her criticism, her tidiness, and even his attachment to her. Thus, they part, but Alice continues to care for him and arrange for his welfare till the end. This is a modern love story in an unconventional setting, not the traditional boy-meets-girl, with rivals, petty jealousies, and villains. SYMBOLISM / SYMBOLS A lot of the writing is bare and simple, as befits the narrator, but it is also a psychological study. Hence, the latter part the book has several symbols, sometimes used as links, which set off associations with the protagonists memories. The author uses the knife as a repeated symbol of the mothers threats and punishments. He has dreams of sex, ending with the woman carrying a bloody knife. When he tries to make love to Alice, he cant go on. Later, he dreams of being chased by someone holding a bloody knife. This is later connected to his mothers threats when he had an unconscious erection while observing a girl. It is also linked with the knife his mother picks up, when she demands that his father should take him away from home. Another symbol, which recurs in the novel, is the window. After the operation, the "new" Charlie often imagines that his old self is another person who is often watching him from a window. This window becomes a symbol of the retarded Charlies alienation from the outside world. It always shows him as an observer, one who is not allowed to actually participate in life but can only watch wistfully while others act. In the final stages of the novel, Charlie frequently sees his existence as being a journey from a cave into the light, and back again into the cave. The epigraph to the book is a quotation from Platos "Republic," which contains this idea. There, Plato speaks of the "soul of man" which "has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light." His brief spell as the "new" Charlie is his period in the sun, although he is always haunted by fears of the returning darkness. The cave appears again in the experience Charlie has during his last therapy session with Strauss. He feels faint and sees a brilliant light - "a blue-white glow...gathering into a shimmering ball" later called a "grotto of light" in which the "core of this unconscious" blooms into " a shimmering, swirling, luminescent flower." But "Charlie doesnt want to know what lies beyond" and so he is drawn back to earth. Here the light represents God and death, as a merging with God. The cause symbol becomes "the wet labyrinth," "quiet and dark"-his earthly

existence into which he is reluctantly pulled back. Algernon, the white "super-mouse" is not so much a symbol, as a parallel, an "alter-ego" of Charlie. Initially, he hates Algernon for beating him at every maze. Then he grows fond of him and is comforted to know he is "smart" because of a similar operation. Charlie is upset that Algernon has to "perform" to earn each meal, and later, after they escape, he invents mazes, which will stimulate the mouse, but does not reward him with food. At the convention, he resents their "exhibit" status and frees Algernon from his cage and escapes with him. At the convention, Burts report on Algernons erratic behavior reveals to Charlie, his own future doom, making the comparison between them overt. Later, he discovers the plans to dispose of Algernon after his death, and cant bear to think of him being disposed off that way. Ultimately, he buries Algernon in the back garden, and puts flowers on his grave. His last thought in the book is that his friends place flowers on the grave of Algernon. The treatment of the white mouse, as in the case of any other laboratory animal, is exploitative and uncaring. Charlie, being considered sub-human is treated very much the same, hence he considers the mouse as an extension of himself. Thus, the author, while using symbols common to modern psychology, makes them an organic and essential part of his theme. THE ELEMENT OF SCIENCE FICTION This novel received the Nebula Award for Best Novel of the year, awarded by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Thus, it is acknowledged as a work of science fiction. Yet, one associates science fiction with aliens, outer space, conquest of or by strange creatures, or mutant insects or animals accidentally spawned by science. Here for a change, there is a story about experimental surgery for the benefit of the mentally retarded. The idea is an exciting one, so is the approach. The author does not concentrate on a technical description of the surgery or on external observation of the patient. He goes into the mind of the protagonist and tries to depict the changes in his personality. As science fiction, the book may be disappointing. There is no delving into the procedures of surgery beyond the mention of "psychosurgery" and "enzyme-injection patterns," but the whole conception is viewed from the human angle. Another weakness is the idea that after succeeding on just one mouse, researchers would operate on a human subject. Only at the Chicago convention is there a more specific technical discussion. Here, Nemur explains Charlies condition as "phenyl ketonuria" resulting in defective biochemical reactions. He says, "Think of the enzyme produced by the defective gene as a wrong key which fits into the chemical lock of the central nervous system-but wont turn. Because it's there, the true key-the right enzyme-cant even enter the lock." He explains their surgery in the following way, "we remove the damaged portions of the brain and permit the implanted brain tissue, which has been chemically revitalized to

produce brain proteins at a supernormal rate..." It is at this stage that Charlie realizes that both Nemur and Strauss are entirely ignorant of the work done in their field by Indian and Japanese researchers, who are ahead of them. The reason is that they are not linguists as Charlie has become, and are complacent about work done in the West. It is after this that, Charlie escapes and later returns to the lab with independent authority to analyze the defects in the surgery performed on him and on Algernon. He vows that "I will have lived a thousand normal lives by what I might add to others not yet born." After this, Charlie concentrates on studying Algernons deteriorating condition in order to come up with an explanation. Finally, he concludes that, "artificially-induced intelligence deteriorates at a rate of time directly proportional to the quantity of the increase." Thus, the novel does not depict any glorious advance in medical science, but a daring experiment which fails, and for which the protagonist suffers the consequences. How he faces his own personal tragedy is what the novel focuses on. STUDY QUESTIONS / BOOK REPORT IDEAS 1. Does Flowers For Algernon fit into the mould of classical tragedy? Discuss. 2. Explain how the theme of self-realization is worked out in this novel. 3. Discuss how this novel fits into the genre of Science Fiction. 4. Flowers For Algernon has been called "an immensely original work." Do you agree? 5. Would you agree that this novel is the story of a "love-triangle?" Explain. 6. Bring out the role of the family in the novel. 7. To what extent is this a novel about the neglect of the mentally retarded? 8. Examine Charlies role as a tragic hero. 9. Explain the function of Algernon in the plot of the novel. 10. Analyze the role played by women in the novel. 11. Is the novelist unduly harsh towards the medical profession? Discuss. 12. Outline the main themes explored in this novel. 13. Discuss the significance of the title. 14. Is the first person narrative an effective technique here?

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