In "Flowers for Algernon," what does Charlie realize for the first time at the work party?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As Charlie gains intelligence, it suddenly dawns on him at the work party that his friends Frank and Joe invite him out to events so that they can make fun of him and laugh at him, not because they really consider him a friend.

He tries to avoid drinking, because he remembers the bad experience he had the last time he went to a party with them and drank. However, they have clearly put something into his Coke, because it tastes strange to him.

Frank and Joe encourage him to dance with a woman named Ellen, and Charlie does, but people keep trying to trip him. As Charlie looks up at Joe's laughing face, he realizes he is being laughed at, not with. Charlie blushes. Nobody has seen him embarrassed before:

Everyone was looking at me and laughing and I felt naked. I wanted to hide myself. I ran out into the street and I threw up. Then I walked home. It's a funny thing I never knew that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around all the time to make fun of me. Now I know what it means when they say "to pull a Charlie Gordon."

When he gets home, Charlie writes in his journal that he feels ashamed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Before his operation, Charlie believed that the men at the bakery were his friends. This is shown when Joe Carp and Frank Reilly take Charlie to a bar. They get him drunk, make fun of him and then abandon him, leaving him alone to try to find his way home. As Charlie's IQ increases, he begins to understand the real motivations behind Joe and Frank's "friendship". They have really been taking advantage of a man who was mentally challenged. After this, Charlie begins to get promoted at work but this makes his so-called friends nervous and they sign a petition to get Charlie fired.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial