Flowers For Algernon: Novel Summary: Progress Report 8

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Progress Report 8, the first substantial entry, is divided into twelve days. In the opening section, Charlie has left the hospital but has not yet returned to work. Several changes take place in Charlie's personality. The first is that he becomes angry with Algernon, who continues to beat him in the maze races. He also becomes frustrated that he must repeatedly take tests at the college and that he doesn't seem to be getting any smarter. Charlie begins experiencing headaches, and his thoughts seem to be changing.

 
Charlie returns to work at the bakery but has been reminded not to tell anyone about the operation. He learns that Algernon had the same operation and believes that's why the mouse is so smart; however, he does not comprehend the fact that the experiment has been attempted on other mice, who haven't remained intelligent. When Charlie returns to work, he is teased by his fellow workers, but he doesn't understand that they are making fun of him. He believes that their actions are all good fun and that the men truly like him. Charlie meets Ernie, a young man hired to cover Charlie's work when he was absent during his operation and recovery.
 
Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss visit Charlie at home and give him a learning machine, an audio/video device that he uses when he sleeps. Charlie begins to question why he needs to do certain things. He also starts to wonder about life. Charlie begins attending therapy sessions with Dr. Strauss and reports that he has started having strange dreams, such as a maze-like dream of an event that occurred in his youth, a time when he became separated from his mother in a department store.
 
Joe Carp and Frank Reilly, Charlie's co-workers, take Charlie to a bar, get him drunk, and make fun of him.
 
Charlie beats Algernon for the first time. He also holds Algernon for the first time and displays empathy for the mouse, who can only eat when he is able to solve a puzzle.
 
Miss Kinnian begins teaching Charlie to read and spell in private sessions and brings Robinson Crusoe for him to read. Again, Charlie displays sympathy as he feels sorry for Crusoe because he is so isolated and alone.
 
Analysis
This report reveals Charlie's developing emotions. Whereas prior to the operation Charlie was a very mild-mannered and rather emotionless individual, he begins to experience a much wider range of emotions, including anger and sympathy. His new tendency to question authority hints at his developing sense of self-awareness. Charlie's dreams imply that access to his unconscious life is beginning to take place and hints at a certain level of anxiety deep within him.

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