Describe the first test that Charlie took in Flowers for Algernon. Why did he think he didn't do well on it?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first test Charlie took was a Rorschach Test - Charlie refers to it as a "raw shok test" - a psychological test in which the subject is shown an inkblot and asked what he or she sees in it. The subject's answer is analyzed using scientific methods; it is believed that the nature of the answer provides insight into the workings of the subject's mind. Charlie is frustrated when he takes the test, because he is unable to see anything in the inkblots beyond the ink on the paper. He knows that he is expected to see more, but is capable of doing so. He senses that he has not been able to do what the examiner is asking, and so believes he has done poorly on the test.

Because of his mental challenges, Charlie sees things very literally; it is beyond his capabilities to look at things more deeply than at that level. When Charlie is presented with the inkblot, he sees only what is right there before his eyes, "spild ink." He tells the examiner honestly that he "saw ink spild on a wite card." The examiner agrees, and Charlie, who seeks the approval of others like a child, is satisfied. To his consternation, however, the examiner presses on, telling Charlie that "there was picturs there." Though he tries and tries, Charlie sees no pictures, and when instructed to "imagen" what is there, he cannot ("progris riport 1-martch 4).

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Flowers for Algernon

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