Flowers for Algernon Progress Report 8
Discharged from the hospital, Charlie reports back to the Beekman Psychology department for further testing. Algernon continues to win the maze races, and Charlie feels discouraged by his own apparent lack of progress. Frustrated and suffering from headaches, Charlie grumbles that the personality tests, the mazes, and the progress reports are all plain stupid.
Charlie longs to understand the philosophical and political debates carried on between students at the Beekman College cafeteria. Burt assures Charlie that, if the experiment works, he will soon surpass the college students. Charlie's patience wears thin and he returns to work at the bakery. Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur forbid him from telling anyone about his operation; both doctors fear failure and they do not want to be embarrassed in front of their colleagues at the Welberg Foundation.
Dr. Strauss soothes Charlie's irritation by explaining that Algernon's intellect likewise took a long time to develop after surgery. Charlie had not realized that the same operation performed on him was also performed on Algernon. Encouraged by the mouse's increased and lasting intelligence, Charlie regains a positive attitude.
Joe Carp and Frank Reilly taunt Charlie when he returns to the bakery, but Charlie thinks his friends are simply laughing because they like him. As Charlie explains, "Some times somebody will say hey lookit Frank, or Joe or even Gimpy. He really pulled a Charlie Gordon that time. I don't know why they say it but they always laff and I laff too." PR 8, pg. 17 Mr. Donner hired a new delivery boy named Ernie, and Charlie worries that he will loose his job. Donner assures Charlie that, as promised, he will never allow Charlie to be sent away to the Warren State Home. Charlie surprises Mr. Donner when he asks to be an apprentice baker; Charlie has never before expressed the desire to learn such a complicated task.
Professor Nemur and Dr. Strauss visit Charlie's apartment and ask why he has not come to the lab lately. Dispirited and resistant, Charlie explains that he does not want to race with Algernon anymore. Nemur presents Charlie with a strange television set that is really a teaching machine. Nemur instructs Charlie to turn the set on at night and to absorb the repetitious sounds and pictures as he sleeps. Charlie reacts suspiciously to the odd set and Strauss notes that Charlie has begun to question authority. The "crazy TV" keeps Charlie up all night, and he wonders why people must go to school if machines can make them smart in their sleep.
Prompted by the night machine's commands of "remember....remember....remember," Charlie recalls his first meeting with Miss Kinnian. When Charlie asked his jeering coworkers how they learned to read and write, Fanny Birden sympathetically referred him to the Beekman College center for retarded adults. Eager to learn immediately, Charlie purchased a newspaper on his walk to the school. At Beekman, Miss Kinnian introduced herself as Charlie's reading teacher and instructed him to return tomorrow for registration. She gently warned her new over-eager student that learning to read and write would take a long time, possibly years.
Now that memories are resurfacing through Charlie's dreams, Charlie must attend therapy sessions with Dr. Strauss. Tired because the strange machine still wakes him at night, Charlie falls asleep on the therapist's couch. The night TV gives Charlie strange dreams, and Dr. Strauss explains that the dreams are Charlie's subconscious at work. The doctor gives Charlie a dictionary to look up words such as "subconscious," so that he will begin to understand and spell them correctly.
Charlie suffers another headache, but this time it results from a hangover and not from the experiment. Joe Carp and Frank Reilly invited Charlie to Halloran's Bar for drinks after work, intending to get him drunk and humiliate him. After laughing at Charlie's expense, Joe and Frank sent Charlie around the corner and ditched him. Inebriated and confused by his friend's disappearance, Charlie was taken home by a concerned policeman.
Back at the lab, Charlie finally beats Algernon at running the maze. Thrilled, Charlie remarks, "I beet Algernon. I dint even know I beet him until Burt Selden told me. Then the second time I lost because I got so excited. But after that I beet him 8 more times. I must be getting smart to beat a smart mouse like Algernon. But I dont feel smarter." PR 8, pg. 22 Feeling friendly towards the mouse, Charlie wants to feed Algernon, but Burt does not allow it. To Charlie's disappointment, food is only used as an incentive for Algernon to solve puzzles. Dr. Strauss gives Charlie sleeping pills because his excitement makes it impossible to rest. Sleep is important because the brain changes most during the sleep cycle. Charlie remembers his Uncle Herman as an unemployed painter, and he recalls how Norma was often slapped for being cruel to him. Miss Kinnian visits and Charlie is attracted by her youthful appearance. She teaches him spelling rules and they begin to read Robinson Crusoe, a book about a man stranded on a desert island.