Flowers for Algernon |
Progress Study 11 | Summary
Charlie Gordon reports he went on a date with Alice Kinnian. They saw a moving-picture show he critiqued as unrealistic; Alice sees this critique equally evidence of his progress, but Charlie expresses frustration at how much he still can’t understand. Alice compares his increasing intelligence to climbing a ladder and says she hopes he won’t get hurt. The two friends limited their affection for one another, merely Alice says they can’t be together, “non yet.”
Charlie reports on his trouble distinguishing retentiveness, perception, and imagination. He describes a dream from the previous night: in it, a daughter kissed and caressed him, which fabricated him afraid—”I know I must never touch a girl.” And then he felt a bubbles and throbbing in his torso and saw the girl was holding a bloody knife. Later, equally he recalls the nightmare, he has memories of his adolescent sister, Norma: peering through a keyhole and seeing her bathe; trying on her clothes and existence spanked by his female parent for doing then; finding her bloody underwear in the hamper. He realizes his female parent’s warnings to keep away from women, and his resulting fear and feet, bear upon his interactions with Alice.
Charlie learns that Gimpy has been stealing from Mr. Donner by undercharging customers in exchange for bribes. Professor Nemur says Charlie was an innocent eyewitness, unaware of what was going on; he compares Charlie to a knife used in a stabbing. Alice tells Charlie he must trust himself to decide what to do about the state of affairs. When Charlie tells Alice he loves her, she says he has now surpassed her intelligence level and might feel differently about her as he continues to get smarter.
Charlie decides to present his ethical problem to Gimpy equally a friend’s hypothetical conflict. Gimpy understands Charlie’south pregnant and resentfully agrees to stop accepting bribes. However, Charlie is fired from the bakery because his intelligence makes everyone feel inadequate. Fanny Birden suggests God never intended Charlie to exist smart, hints that he has fabricated a deal with the devil, and says perhaps he should revert to the way he was earlier. She cites the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis, arguing the pursuit of forbidden knowledge was the cause of original sin: God told Adam and Eve not to eat its fruit, and by disobeying they brought death into the world.
After his firing, Charlie feels afloat. He continues to read and learn; he can comprehend an entire page in only a 2nd, and the higher students’ conversations—once so fascinating to him—now seem childish. He is surprised to realize the college’s professors know less than he did; at present he recognizes they are simply human in a mode he knew nil of earlier. He knows Alice is just a person, too, but he still loves her. At a concert in a park, he holds Alice simply experienced buzzing in his ears. He jumps up when he saw a boy watching them; later, he realizes he had a hallucination brought on by sexual anxiety. When he tries to be close to Alice, he remembers a adult female who exposed herself to him one time and recalls his mother beating him for getting an erection when he looked at his sister’south friend. When the nausea, buzzing, and chill overwhelm him, he has to turn away from Alice.
The theme of isolation is revisited in this study. As his intelligence begins to exceed that of the people around him, they experience junior and pull away from him. Charlie Gordon realizes his intelligence “emphasized their inadequacies.” Every bit they withdraw, Charlie is left alone, isolated from those to whom he felt closest. Charlie’s intelligence even threatens to isolate him from Alice Kinnian, who worries he’ll mature to the signal that advice betwixt them volition be difficult.
The report also revisits the notion that science disrupts God’southward intentions and is sinful. Franny Birden cites the tree of the noesis from Genesis 3 when she argues that pursuit of forbidden knowledge was the cause of original sin. In the biblical story, God told Adam and Eve not to swallow its fruit, and when they disobeyed, they brought death into the world. She suggests that Charlie may take fabricated a deal with the devil and that information technology may non be also late for him to go back to the way he was. Charlie disagrees; he identifies scientific discipline every bit the source of his intelligence and says science has the capacity to assist people. Future events in the novel will prove that both characters are right: science has given Charlie his intelligence and will also have information technology away.
Charlie compares his increased intelligence to a blind homo receiving sight. This metaphor recalls the novel’s guiding epigraph, an excerpt from Plato’due south
about the dazzling experience of coming from darkness to light and the dimness of going from light back into darkness. Darkness symbolizes Charlie’due south intellectual inability, and light represents his increased intelligence.
Again, readers see how Professor Nemur objectifies Charlie, comparing him to a knife in a stabbing or a car in an blow, both objects without bureau. However, Charlie now recognizes this objectification and protests information technology. He insists on his own personhood, both before and later surgery. When he tells Nemur, “I was a person before the operation, in case you forgot,” Nemur replies, “of class. But information technology was unlike …” revealing he still equates personhood with intelligence and sees the intellectually disabled every bit less than human.
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