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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Progress Report 9
Oliver who works the dough mixer quits his job. It is April Foolís Day, and Joe and Frank plan to play a trick on Charlie. They egg him on to mix the dough before Gimpy comes in. Only Fanny Birden, who is kind to Charlie, protests and asks them to leave Charlie alone. The rest hope that when Charlie inevitable messes up the dough, theyíll get the day off. To their surprise, Charlie gets the mix right. Even the dour Gimpy is bewildered. So is Mr. Donner. Everyone is surprised, especially Frank. Fanny is thrilled for Charlie. He doesnít understand why Joe and Frank are hostile and aloof after this. Charlie overhears Frank telling Joe that, "there is something peculiar lately about Charlie." Mr. Donner insists that Charlie does the mixing permanently and gives him a 5-dollar raise. Fanny explains to Charlie that "This is April Fools Day and the joke back fired and made them the fools instead of you." Charlie wonders, "Does that mean Iím getting smarter?"
He finishes reading Robinson Crusoe and wonders what happens to him later. Miss Kinnian says thatís all there is. WHY? Charlie wants to know.
Miss Kinnian is happy about Charlieís promotion, but she says he shouldnít feel bad if he finds out that everybody isnít as nice as he thinks. Miss Kinnian starts crying when Charlie tells her that, "all my friends are smart people and their good. They like me and they never did anything that wast nice." He has faint memories of his mother, who he remembers was as nice as Miss. Kinnian. He remembers her telling him to be good and always to be friendly to people but "that some people might think you are trying to make trouble." This connects with another flash of memory. His mother had come from the hospital with a new baby girl. He remembers how the babyís crying used to keep him awake in the night. One night, she had woken him with her cries, and he had picked her up "to hold her to get quiet the way mom does." His mother had rushed in screaming hysterically and had hit him hard. Charlie realizes now that she had thought he would hurt the baby, which he never would have. He decides to tell this incident to Dr. Strauss.
Charlie learns about commas from Miss Kinnian who says people could lose a lot of money if a comma is in the wrong place. Charlie is completely confused by this, but enthusiastically uses them throughout his sentences!
Miss Kinnian explains different kinds of punctuation, but Charlie mixes them all up! He feels "she is a genius" to understand it all and also have answers for all his questions. Charlie wishes he could be like her.
Charlie wakes up in the middle of the night and reads through a grammar book. He now understands all that Miss Kinnian had been trying to explain. Looking over his own old progress reports, he is horrified at his chaotic spelling and punctuation. Miss Kinnian however doesnít let him change them. She says that these will show what progress heís made. Charlie visits Algernon and plays with him. They no longer compete.
Charlie is depressed. Itís the first time heís stayed away from work on purpose. It all started with a party with his friends at the bakery. He had avoided whisky but the coke they gave him tasted "funny." Then Joe had egged on a girl, Ellen, to dance with Charlie and "give him a good time." Every one else had watched them dance and someone had made Charlie trip several times. In the beginning, Charlie too had laughed with them but eventually, he no longer found it funny. Ellen then offered him an apple, which he discovered was a fake one. Joe has said, "I ainít laughed so much since we sent him around the corner to see if it was raining that night we ditched him at Halloranís." Charlie now realizes that they had got rid of him deliberately. This unpleasant incident sets off old memory - of kids in his childhood neighborhood allowing him to play hide and seek, with him as IT. By the time he opened his eyes, they all would have vanished and then he would go back home, alone. At last Charlie understands that Joe, Frank and the others only wanted him around to make fun of him. He also understands what they meant by "to pull a Charlie Gordon." Charlie runs home, heart broken. That night he has a wet dream about the experience with Ellen.
Charlie misses work again because he is depressed about his "friends," yet he feels "itís a good thing about finding out how everybody laughs at me." Heís happy about his reading, and about the fact that he is able to remember most things, but the disturbing aspect is the past, which keeps intruding - "it was like a big hole opened up in the walls of my mind and I can just walk through."
He sees himself as another person - a young, skinny, scared man looking for Donnerís Bakery and watching scenes on the street nearby. He hears boys in the neighborhood calling him "Charlie! Charlie! ...fat head barley!" He remembers how they had called him into a dark alley and urinated all over him, how Uncle Hermann had run after them, in fury, with a hammer in his hand. Then he remembers a scene in the bakery, when tired after his work he had been dozing until someone had kicked his legs out from under him.
Charlie tells Strauss all that he remembers. Strauss tells him that it is important for him to learn about himself so that he can understand his problems. Strauss laughs when Charlie says he does not have any problems. Strauss tells Charlie that his problems will multiply with his increasing intelligence, especially as his intellectual growth will outstrip his emotional growth. He assures Charlie that he will always give him help when he needs it. Charlie reports the wet dream and feels queasy about it. He thinks the cause of the queasiness may be that, "I always thought it was dirty and lead to talk about it." Strauss reassures him, saying it is a natural thing that happens to boys. He thinks Charlie "is still a boy about women." All these new ideas are disturbing, but Charlie resolves "to find out all about my life."
Charlie reads history, geography and arithmetic and begins to learn foreign languages. He is to start college subjects in a couple of weeks, and Strauss instructs him not to read Psychology, as it will divert him from his own experiences and into thinking about psychological theories. Charlie reads a lot of American literature and is impressed.