Progress Report 13 Notes from Flowers for Algernon

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Flowers for Algernon Progress Report 13

Charlie and the Beekman doctors sit on a jet bound for the International Psychological Convention in Chicago. The stewardess' polite attempts to strap Charlie's seat belt conjure memories of his childhood visits to the swindler Dr. Guarino. Promising to make young Charlie smart, Dr. Guarino strapped Charlie down under a blinking, humming machine. Terrified, Charlie wet his pants and mortified his mother. Matt Gordon objected to continued treatment with the phony doctor, preferring to use the money to get out of sales and to open his own barber shop. Even though Dr. Guarino took advantage of his parents, Charlie remembers Guarino as a kind and encouraging man. Unlike his current doctors, Guarino always treated him like a human being. As Charlie says:


"It may sound like ingratitude, but that is one of the things I hate here--the attitude that I am a guinea pig. Nemur's constant references to having made me what I am, or that someday there will be others like me who will become real human beings. How can I make him understand that he did not create me?" PR 13, pg. 101

Tension between Charlie and Professor Nemur builds during the convention's opening night parties. Charlie challenges Professor Nemur's experimental conclusions by citing recently published Indian research in the Hindu Journal of Psychopathology. Nemur is unaware of the new study; he cannot even read Hindi! Charlie's discovery of Professor Nemur's intellectual inferiority humiliates Nemur and maddens Charlie. He considers the Beekman doctors and professors frauds, for "They had pretended to be geniuses. But they were just ordinary men working blindly, pretending to be able to bring light into the darkness. Why is it that everyone lies? No one I know is what he appears to be." PR 13, pg. 105 Burt Selden disapproves of Charlie's overly harsh criticism of Nemur and Strauss. Though a genius, Charlie has not yet learned tolerance.

Charlie resumes his progress report several days after abandoning the convention. During the main presentation, Charlie listened bitterly as doctors portrayed him as an inhuman "mistake of nature" prior to the experiment. Audience members gawked at videotaped footage of Charlie's early laboratory sessions, and he felt like a side-show attraction at a circus. Worst of all, Charlie realized that Professor Nemur's experimental results were premature; the permanence of the results are questionable. Overwhelmed with anger, Charlie impulsively opened the door of Algernon's cage and turned the mouse loose, sending the convention into an uproar. In the chaos, Charlie scooped the liberated lab rat into his pocket and caught a plane back to New York. Charlie takes a hotel room near Times Square and considers visiting his parents. Nemur's experimental mistake weighs heavily on Charlie's mind, and he worries that his intellect will prove impermanent after all. He must visit his family while he still has time.

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