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In Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, Charlie Gordon is a young man who desperately wants to be smart, though he is mentally challenged. It's safe to say that part of his desire to be more intelligent is so he will not feel so left out.
In "3d progris riport," Charlie recounts getting in trouble at the bakery where he works:
...Im tired at werk in the morning. Gimpy hollered at me because I dropped a tray full of rolles I was carrying over to the over. They got derty and he had to wipe them off before he put them in to back. Gimpy hollers at me all the time when I do something rong...
In "progris riport 6th Mar 8," Charley is getting ready for the operation. While Professor Nemur says that success would bring Charley fame, he cares nothing of that. His comment allows us to infer that his disability makes him feel lonely, and isolated from others:
I dont care so much about beeing famus. I just want to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of frends who like me.
Finally, after the procedure, and as Charlie's mental capabilities improve, Charlie recounts a terrible experience with his "friends" from the bakery, in PROGRESS REPORT 9, on April 10—
I feel sick. Not like for a doctor, but inside my chest it feels empty, like getting punched and a heartburn at the same time.
(We can infer from this quote that Charley remembers being beaten—we know that his father beat him when he performed poorly compared to other children.)
Charley goes on to describe how he is invited to a party by the men at the bakery: Joe Carp and Frank Reilly. They spike his soda, though he tells them he doesn't want alcohol. They push a girl named Ellen to dance with him. Their behavior (even if Charley doesn't understand at first) is unkind: Ellen asks why they don't just leave Charley alone. While they dance, the guys stick their feet out to trip him.
Joe becomes abusive, pushing Charley down on the floor when he tries to get up. Everyone is laughing at Charley now, even Ellen. She gives him a piece of wax fruit. When he bites it, everyone thinks it's hilarious, and Frank says how dumb Charley is. As time goes on, we find that these men—these friends—have been unkind to Charley for a long time, like sending him around the corner to see if it was raining so they could run away from him.
This reminds him of a time when he was a child:
Then I saw a picture that I remembered in my mind when I was a kid and the children in the block let me play with them, hide-and-go-seek and I was IT. After I counted up to ten over and over on my fingers I went to look for the others. I kept looking until it got cold and dark and I had to go home.
But I never found them and I never knew why.
What Frank said reminded me. That was the same thing that happened at Halloran's.
Charley realizes that all this time, while he thought these men were his friends, they were laughing at him. Being different did not change Charley's desire to have friends and be liked. He worked very hard at it, but was nothing but the brunt of cruel jokes—even when he was a child.
Ellen starts to rub up against Charley. He feels strange and begins to blush. At their taunting, he runs out of the apartment and finally finds his way to the street, where he walks alone for a long time:
I never knew before that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around just to make fun of me.
Now I know what they mean when they say "to pull a Charlie Gordon."
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