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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Progress Report 8
Charlie comes out of hospital to face a battery of tests and puzzles. He hates Algernon, as "he always beets me." He is fed up of all the ‘amazes", tests, and progress reports and of the fact that he is not allowed to return to his work at the bakery. Charlie reports that, he gets headaches when he tries to think. One also gets the impression that he doesn’t like it very much when Dr. Strauss makes him lie on the couch. Miss Kinnian comes to see him and Charlie once again expresses his disappointment that, he has not become ‘smart’ yet. She reassures him by saying that it "will happin so slowly you won’t know its happening."
Charlie passes time sitting in the college cafeteria. He is fascinated by the students and their talk - "about art and polatics and riligeon." He does not understand the first two, but he knows thar, ‘riligeon’ has to do with God. He remembers that his mother used to make him pray to God a lot "to make me get better and not be sick."
Burt spends a lot of time with him and reveals more about the other characters. Burt is a doctoral student, a Psychology major. This confuses Charlie as he used to think that, one can find majors, ‘onley in the army.’ Burt introduces Charlie to a lot of students and Charlie gets the feeling that, some of them are looking at him in a strange way, as though he does not belong to the college. Charlie is about to tell them that he will soon become as smart as them but, Burt stops him and tells the students that, Charlie is a cleaner in the Psychology lab. He tells Charlie that there mustn’t be any publicity about his case, as Nemur doesn’t want anyone to laugh at him, if things don’t work out. This is surprising to Charlie who has always been laughed at by people who "are my frends and we have fun." He can’t imagine why anyone would laugh at the humorless Nemur, who is "a scintist in a collidge."
Each morning, Charlie wakes up thinking "I’m goin to be smart but nothing happens." He is plagued by fears that the experiment is a failure, that maybe he will have to live at the Warren Home. He hates all the tests, and Algernon even more as, "I never new before that I was dumber than a mouse." He admits that he doesn’t like writing progress reports anymore and that at times he finds it difficult to read his own handwriting. He is frustrated and often suffers from headaches.
Strauss and Nemur decide to send Charlie back to work at the bakery. Every night he has to come to the lab and spend two hours writing "these dumb reports", for which he will be paid. Strauss tells him that he doesn’t have to write progress reports everyday but asks him to keep a notebook in his pocket and suggests that he should report only special happenings or when he thinks of something special.
To Charlie’s great relief, Strauss explains that Algernon, too, has had a similar operation and has taken a long time "to get smart." Charlie now understands that this is the reason why he could not defeat Algernon in the different races. Dr. Strauss tells Charlie that there is a probability that Algernon will remain smart permanently. Dr Strauss also tells Charlie that this is a good sign as he and Algernon have had the same operation.
Charlie returns to the bakery to a chorus of jokes about the operation. Joe Carp asks him whether they "put any brains in." Charlie is tempted to reveal the facts, but doesn’t. He is upset at finding a new boy, Ernie, doing his work. Mr. Donner consoles him, explaining how his best friend, Charlie’s Uncle Hermann, had first brought him to work at the bakery. After Hermann dies, his mother admitted Charlie to the Warren Home. Then Donner had got him released for outside work placement. All this had happenned seventeen years ago. Donner promises Charlie that he will always have a job there, and that Ernie will eventually train as a baker. Charlie is puzzled when Ernie’s mistakes are called "pulling a Charlie Gordon." He doesn’t remember making such errors, but lets it pass as, "their all my good frends and we have lots of jokes and laffs here."
Charlie asks Mr. Donner whether he too could be an apprentice baker like Ernie. Donner is stunned at these new signs of ambition in Charlie. He puts him off gently. Charlie wishes his experiment was working and he could "get smart like everybody else."
Strauss and Nemur visit Charlie to find out why his visits to the college have stopped. He explains he doesn’t want to race with Algernon. Strauss says he need not, but his visits to the lab are essential. He lends him "a teeching machine that works like a T.V," which Charlie has to switch on before he goes to sleep. Charlie is mystified, but Strauss insists that he follow his instructions if he wants to get smart. He also explains to Charlie that, the changes in Charlie will be so slow, he won’t notice them - "like you don’t notise how the hour hand on a clock moves."
When Nemur tells him how to operate the machine, Charlie demands to know its effects. Nemur is furious, but Strauss pacifies him by pointing out that there’s been a change in Charlie, he is beginning to question authority. Nemur explains to Charlie that the machine will teach him things before and during his sleep. It will also stimulate him to remember his past. Charlie is scared. He asks when he can return to Miss Kinnian’s class and they tell him that she will give him special lessons at the testing center.
Charlie is annoyed by the "T.V" which keeps him up all night - "How can I sleep with something yelling crazy things all night in my ears." He asks, "if you can get smart when your going to school, why do pepul go to school?" He is sure its not going to work as he’s been watching late late shows on T.V for a long time and they haven’t made him smart. He thinks maybe certain shows like quizzes could do that.
The "T.V" disturbs his sleep, so he finds it hard to keep awake in the daytime at work. He remembers how he first went to Miss Kinnian’s class. He had asked Joe Carp how he could learn to read but he had laughed at him. But Fanny Berden at the bakery had overheard, and got the Center’s address for him. He had been so excited that he had bought a newspaper, planning to read it immediately "after I lerned!" He had met Miss Kinnian there. She had been friendly and encouraging but had warned him that it might take years for him to read.