Flowers For Algernon: Novel Summary: Progress Report 12

Average Overall Rating: 2
Total Votes: 6610

Charlie's relationship with Nemur has become strained. When Charlie complains to Strauss that the reports are taking too much of his time, Strauss suggests that he try typing them, and Charlie quickly learns. He is now being paid by the Welberg Foundation, so he doesn't have to find another job. Nemur prepares for a presentation at a large psychology conference, in which Charlie and Algernon are the main focus. However, Charlie feels that Nemur is treating him more like a laboratory subject than a human being.

 
Charlie's nightmares continue. He recalls a time when he waited for his sister, Norma, to return home from school. Norma had received an A on a class assignment, and when Charlie blurted out the news she became angry. A family argument ensued over a dog that Charlie's mother promised Norma could get if she received a good mark on a school paper. Charlie's father chided Norma for treating her brother rudely and remarked that they could not get the dog because earlier their mother had said there was no room for an animal and no one to take care of it. Charlie blurted out that he could help to care for the animal, but Norma rudely rejected the offer, proclaiming that if the dog couldn't be hers alone, she didn't want it. She cried out that she hated her brother, but Charlie had no idea why. From that moment, Norma isolated herself from her brother and even told friends that he was not really her brother, just someone the family took in out of pity.
 
Charlie has his first fight with Alice Kinnian. He goes to pick her up at the Beekman center, but the visit doesn't go well. The other students question why he hasn't been coming to school, and Charlie ponders what to tell them that won't hurt their feelings. A female student comments that Charlie is different now. Alice and Charlie argue, with Alice telling him that his personality, specifically the way he treats others, has changed. Alice lets Charlie know that she now feels intellectually inferior when she's with him, and Charlie has a revelation that he has become so self-absorbed that he has ignored the impact his transformation has had on his relationships. Alice informs him that she won't be attending the conference, and Charlie becomes very angry. As Charlie walks, he uncovers a new understanding of freedom, as he comes to terms with the fact that he has grown apart from Alice.
 
Charlie writes about restlessly walking through the city alone. On one of his evening jaunts, he meets a woman in a long coat, sitting on a park bench. She tells him about her rough life and troubled marriage and invites him to take her somewhere. Charlie decides to take her home to test how far he can go without breaking into panic. As they walk, the woman reveals that she is five months pregnant. Charlie is repulsed and angered, his mind clouded by a memory of his mother pregnant with his sister. He grabs the woman's shoulder and she screams. The woman runs away screaming, and Charlie takes off in the opposite direction, running in the darkness through the maze-like paths of the park. Charlie inadvertently circles back to his starting point and overhears people trying to aid the woman. As the crowd tries to figure out what happened to her, someone suggests that a man with a knife and a gun tried to rape her. A figure-not Charlie-is spotted running into the night, and the group chases after it. Charlie fears that he might be caught and beaten, but at the same time he thinks that perhaps he deserves to be caught. Charlie manages to elude the small mob and exits the park. As he walks home, he wonders why he should feel that he wanted to be punished. Alone in his apartment, he recalls the events and the troubling humming returns to his ears.
 
Analysis
The ease with which Charlie masters typing shows that his intelligence is still improving; his strained relationship with Nemur and Strauss suggests that he has become their intellectual equals. Charlie's sense of self-awareness and his range of emotions continue to develop. His attempt to pick up the woman in the park shows a further development of his sexual libido, and the fact that he is repulsed by her pregnancy demonstrates an enhanced sense of morality. Charlie's desire to be caught by the mob hints at an underlying sense of guilt. Finally, the humming in his ears and sense of panic suggest that he still has some inner demons to work out.

Quotes: Search by Author

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z