What does Charlie realize about college professors in the book Flowers for Algernon?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Charlie grows in his ability to understand the world around him, he comes to realize that professors are only human.  He had always thouight that they were "intellectual giants", but he now realizes that they are just "people", and, in his words, "afraid the rest of the world will find out".

Charlie's intelligence has developed to the point to where he is now much smarter than the professors at the University.  It takes Charlie "only a second to absorb the printed page", and he picks up ancient languages with a facility which is nothing short of amazing.  Now that he has "moved up to another plateau", the ordinary debates he hears among students "about history or politics or religion" seem childish to him, and he finds "no pleasure in discussing ideas any more on such an elementary level". 

Charlie has tried to explore his ideas with individual professors a number of times, but has come away dissatisfied.  He finds that the professors tend to listen quietly to what he has to say, before finding "excuses to slip away", with the excuse that the subject is not in their particular of expertise.  The truth is, Charlie is now able to reason on a level far beyond tha capabilities of the normal academic population, and the professors to whom he has always looked up can no longer keep up with him.  Charlie is frustrated by his discovery that the professors are, after all, just people, and, since he does not yet have the ability to accept others with a sense of tolerance, he looks upon them judgementally, thinking that when they refuse engage in the level of discussion of which he is now capable, they do so because they are "afraid to reveal the narrowness of their knowledge" (May15).

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Flowers for Algernon

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