What did Charlie realize from his nightmare about the bloody knife and the free association afterwards in "Flowers for Algernon"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although he doesn't understand the full implications of his discoveries, Charlie realizes that his dream has some connection with the attraction he feels towards Alice, and the fragmented memories of his earlier distorted perceptions about sexuality.  He also realizes that although it makes sense that he had always been "taught to keep away from women", there is something more to do with sexuality than its forbiddenness, and it somehow has to do with love - he thinks, "something inside shouts that there is more...I'm a person...and I have to love someone".

Charlie's dream about being chased by a bloody knife and losing something after he is sexually aroused by a woman expresses his fear of emasculation should he give in to his sexual urges.  In free association afterwards, he connects his dream to earlier experiences where he saw his sister unclothed and later found her dirty underwear stained with dried menstrual blood.  Charlie had been threatened by his mother with violent and terrible consequences should he ever allow his sexuality to be expressed.  Now, as his ability to understand things increases, he senses that the lessons he has been taught do not tell the whole story, and that there is something about his sexuality which is natural, and good, and might have to do with love (May 3).

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Flowers for Algernon

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