Flowers for Algernon Progress Report 16
On a gray, rainy day, Charlie drives out to the Warren State Home for a tour. The disinfectant smell, vacant faces, and hopeless doctors of the cold institution depress him. At the lab, Algernon refuses to eat or run mazes. Alarmed by Algernon's decline, Alice visits Charlie at his new apartment. Fay crashes in on Alice and Charlie's meeting. Contrary to Charlie's expectations, Fay and Alice become instant friends and the three chat late into the night. Alice worries that Charlie's drinking, dancing and late nights with Fay interfere with his work at the lab. Charlie reassures Alice that he loves her. Though he continues sexual relations with Fay, he will never tell her the truth about his past.
Charlie works all hours at the lab, to Fay's annoyance. He cannot rest, for he must fit a lifetime of research into several weeks. Fay finds a new boyfriend, but Charlie hardly cares; he is deeply involved in his work. Professor Nemur's controlling wife throws a cocktail party, and Charlie attends with friendly intentions. Bertha Nemur's nasty digs anger Charlie, and he begins to drink heavily. Rude and emotional, Charlie loses control and reverts back to the old Charlie Gordon. He rushes to the bathroom and sees the old Charlie, staring back at him in the mirror. Confronting his reflection, Charlie says, "I'm not your friend. I'm your enemy. I'm not going to give up my intelligence without a struggle. I can't go back down into that cave. There's no place for me to go now, Charlie. So you've got to stay away." PR 16, pg. 175 Charlie feels lonely and ashamed; he realizes that his arrogance and self-centeredness have driven away all of his friends.
With a clear mind, Charlie finally pinpoints the flaw he has been searching for in the experiment. In a report entitled The Algernon-Gordon Effect: A Study of Structure and Function of Increased Intelligence, Charlie explains that "ARTIFICIALLY-INDUCED INTELLIGENCE DETERIORATES AT A RATE OF TIME DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE QUANTITY OF THE INCREASE." PR 16, pg. 177 The higher the gain in I.Q. points, the faster the regression will occur. Charlie sends his report to Professor Nemur, Dr. Strauss, and the Welberg Foundation. He tells Alice that his mental deterioration is inevitable, and he begs her not to feel guilty. Algernon dies several days later. Charlie buries him in the back yard and places a bunch of wildflowers on the small grave.
Charlie returns to his childhood home to visit his mother before his intelligence vanishes. Rose Gordon is startled by her son's appearance, and she tries to send him away. Charlie pushes against the door, breaking the glass and cutting his hand. He tries explain that he is not retarded; that an experiment made him smart and Rose can finally be proud of him. Somewhat senile, Rose does not understand. Suddenly, the dog Napoleon barks as Norma returns from work. Norma is surprisingly happy to see her long lost brother. Mature and sympathetic, Norma realizes that Charlie was sent away because of Rose's concern for her welfare. Norma begs Charlie to live with them in the house; times have been tough and Norma needs Charlie's help. In a bizarre reenactment of the past, Rose interrupts the emotional moment by seizing a kitchen knife and threatening her "dirty-minded" son. Charlie left the house, crying like a child in the street.