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Free Study Guide-Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

Progris report 5 - Martch 6

Summary

Charlie is informed that his sister Norma has agreed to the experimental operation. He is delighted. Then he overhears an argument between Nemur and Strauss. Nemur is worried about possible negative effects, and whether the dramatic rise in Charlie’s I.Q will harm him. Strauss argues that Charlie’s motivation is very strong, in spite of his current low I.Q, that it is similar to Algernon’s, and also that his rare enthusiasm makes him a good subject. This confuses Charlie who knows Algernon’s "motor-vation is the chees they put in his box. But it can’t be only that because I dint have no chees this week."

Strauss and Burt manage to quell Nemur’s doubts, and he finally agrees. Charlie is so happy, he jumps up and shakes Nemur’s hand, thus startling him. Nemur decides to take him into his confidence. He warns Charlie that this is the first time such an experiment is being conducted on a human subject. It could fail completely, or succeed temporarily and leave him worse than what he is now. It may even end in his having to live permanently at the state-run Warren Home for the mentally retarded. Charlie responds with great optimism - he is thrilled at this ‘second chanse’ and the idea of "making a grate contribyushun to sience."


Notes

The till now faceless men in white coats are revealed in the flesh here. The irony of explaining the dangers to Charlie when he hasn’t the capacity to grasp the consequences is sharp. The story now clearly moves into the realm of science fiction with the idea of a person with an I.Q of 68, being seen as the raw material for a ‘new intellectual superman.’ The ominous significance of the risks being taken with Charlie’s life is hinted at, but the researchers are shown to be open about it.

The mysterious Miss Kinnian is mentioned but not yet brought into the action. Above all, Charlie’s tremendous enthusiasm stands out. These otherwise drab chapters are made appealing by Charlie’s unintentional humor.

Progris report 6th - Martch 8

Summary

Charlie is made ready for the operation. He has lots of visitors from the medical school and the bakery. The people from the Psychology Department send him flowers. Charlie has brought along his lucky rabbit’s foot, penny and horseshoe. He is not convinced when Dr. Strauss tells him that being superstitious is againt science. Miss Kinnian comes to visit him and makes him comfortable. One can gauge that, she is obviously worried about his safety. The staff at the bakery sends their good wishes and a chocolate cake. One also learns that, the staff at the bakery has only been told that, Charlie is sick and therefore needs treatment. This is because they are not sure whether the operation will work.

Charlie is very happy and looks forward to defeating Algernon in the race after the operation. He is less interested in Prof. Nemur’s pep talk about possible fame. He only wants ‘to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends who like me.’

Notes

Charlie reports events with his usual childlike directness. All the attention he gets makes him happy, yet his fear is revealed by all the lucky charms he clings to. That his good humor and simplicity have won him many friends is clear from the number of visitors he has. Miss Kinnian and the research team are all keyed-up. She, because she is concerned for Charlie, they because, for them, it is the experiment of a lifetime and could affect all their fortunes. In contrast, the man whose future is most at stake is more concerned about beating a mouse at a game, and about having ‘lots of frends who like me’ and "being smart like other pepul.’ The irony at this stage is that, Charlie is doomed never to ‘be like other pepul.’ His sub-normal I.Q now, and superior intelligence later, will always raise barriers between him and others. He doesn’t know this or the fact that, the innocent satisfaction he has in his ‘friends’ will soon be shattered.

The seriousness of the situation is tempered by Charlie’s unwitting humor as he tells the reader, "I don’t know what sience is ---- maybe its something that helps you have good luk" and again in "you cant eat before a operashun. Not even cheese." The bareness of the style not only reflects Charlie’s limited expression, but also lets the reader draw conclusions about the attitude of people to a retarded person, without overt comments from the author.

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