Flowers for Algernon |
Progress Report 17 | Summary
Charlie Gordon notes his intellectual decline; he gradually loses coordination and the power to read foreign languages, play the piano, and empathize complex texts—fifty-fifty his own research article. He is irritable, and some days he doesn’t seem to be aware of much at all. He feels preoperative Charlie waiting to take control once more. When he goes to the lab for a session with Dr. Strauss, he has a strange out-of-torso feel in which he feels close to uniting with the universe earlier being pulled downward to the entrance of a dark cavern. Seeing the opening of the cavern and the bright low-cal outside, he tries in vain to become through the opening. When he emerges from it, he opens his eyes and is “blinded by the intense calorie-free.” He comes out of the hallucination thrashing and screaming, and he says he will not visit Strauss again. Subsequently having trouble with the maze and Rorschach tests, he decides not to render to the lab at all. He continues writing the study, however, although writing became increasingly difficult.
Painfully aware of how little time remains for them, Charlie and Alice Kinnian brand dear. It is a transcendent experience, and Charlie again feels at one with the universe. Alice moves in with Charlie and takes care of him on days when he tin can practice nothing more than lie in bed or watch boob tube. She encourages him to read, but he becomes annoyed with her encouragement, tells her she is acting similar his mother, and asks her to get out. Fay Lillman is afraid of him and refused to come across him.
Charlie tries to continue learning to ward off his turn down, but before long he can no longer comprehend his quondam reports or books he once loved. He remembers his mother trying to teach him to read, proverb he was lazy and warning she would “vanquish it into him.” His spelling and punctuation deteriorate to the level of his first reports, and he reverts to hoping lucky objects might make him smart. He sees a human being like himself belongings a book he one time loved, simply he says, “I dont call up hes me because its similar I run into him from the window.”
He goes back to the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults, forgetting he is no longer a student, only to realize his fault when Alice leaves the room crying. He says, “I reely pulled a Charlie Gordon that time.” Dr. Strauss and Alice give Charlie’s landlady money for his rent and food. Afterwards the landlady encourages Charlie to find work, he returns to his old job at the baker, but a new worker abuses him, and Charlie soils himself. After this incident, Frank Reilly, Joe Carp, and Gimpy say they will protect him as his friends, but Charlie realizes it is time for him to go to the Warren State Home.
In his final written report, he says he wishes he could still exist smart but is glad he “was once a genus” considering “now I know I had a family and I was a person just like evryone.” He says goodbye to Strauss and Alice and, in the report’s last words, he asks them to put flowers on Algernon’s grave.
Charlie Gordon’south symptoms reflect the behaviors he witnessed in Algernon’s decline. Like Algernon, Charlie changes swiftly but sporadically, suffering what Charlie calls “fugues of amnesia” in which he is unaware of what is happening, only to come dorsum to himself suddenly. Charlie even turns on Alice Kinnian, lashing out at her verbally, just as Algernon attacked his female mouse companion.
Charlie’s mental refuse is credible throughout the report. He comes full circumvolve, back to the former Charlie who wants to be smart and hopes his lucky objects and difficult work volition give him intelligence. Postoperative Charlie becomes the one-time Charlie Gordon of his youth, the boy who stares at the television all day and wonders why he is always looking at life through a window. He sees postoperative Charlie reading a book he remembers enjoying, only he doesn’t recognize himself; he has swapped places with this smarter self. When he accidentally returns to the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults and “pulls a Charlie Gordon,” he actually
Charlie Gordon again.
As Charlie and Alice consummate their human relationship, connected with his long search for sexual peace or salvation and then long denied him, readers see him trying to fight the inevitable pull of bloodshed. The desolation of Charlie’s state of affairs is very stiff here for readers every bit Daniel Keyes has deeply involved them in his struggles, leading him finally to a signal very near to his end as a recognizable man.
Plato’due south cave appears one more time in Charlie’southward mystical vision. After most “blending with the universe,” he feels himself shrinking back downward, being pulled by the other Charlie into a dark cave of not-knowingness.
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