Flowers For Algernon: Novel Summary: Progress Report 15

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Charlie returns to the lab. Nemur is cold toward him, and Charlie suspects this is because the Welberg Foundation has granted Charlie approval to work on the project. Burt Selden feels that Algernon's intelligence has dropped because the mouse cannot solve the complex mazes as readily as before. Burt shows Charlie around the lab, and they eventually come to a room for the disposal of dead specimens. Charlie notes that if Algernon should die he wants to bury the mouse himself. Charlie then asks Burt what would happen to his body should he die. Burt initially avoids the question, but when Charlie presses him, he notes that from the beginning they tried to emphasize to Charlie that the effects of the operation might not be permanent. Burt then proceeds to tell Charlie that even if the effects reversed they wouldn't be able to simply let him return to the bakery or to his old way of life; instead, he would be sent to the Warren Home. Initially, this angers Charlie, but he comes to terms with it. He tells Burt that he would like to visit the Warren Home. Charlie thinks that Burt doesn't understand his motives for visiting the home, but Charlie comments that he is driven by the need to understand both his past and his future. Charlie begins reading many texts on psychology, but he finds that much of it is simply based on "wishful thinking." The report ends with Charlie noting that Fay wants to visit the lab; he worries that if she does she might run into Alice.

 
Analysis
Nemur's reaction to Charlie implies that Charlie's perception of the man as rather frail and self-centered is correct. Charlie's concern for Algernon shows he has developed a true sense of love and empathy, even if it is only for a mouse.
Charlie's discussion with Burt about disposing of the dead animals' remains suggests that he is also contemplating his own mortality.

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