In Flowers for Algernon, what is the significance of the incident involving Charlie's discovery that Gimpy is cheating Mr. Donner?
The significance of the incident is that it is one of the first crises by which Charlie realizes intelligence alone is not enough to enable him to navigate the intricacies of life and relationships.
Gimpy was the one person who had always been kind to Charlie at the bakery before Charlie had his operation. In his old state, Charlie was often the victim of cruel pranks, such as when Joe Carp and Frank Reilly took him out to a bar and left him to find his own way home after they had gotten him drunk. Gimpy, on the other hand, was always good to Charlie, defending him when others would take advantage of his disability. When Charlie, who becomes much more aware of what is going on around him as his IQ increases, catches Gimpy stealing from the cash register and confronts him, Gimpy is hurt, crying out, "I always stood up for you. I should have had my head examined". Charlie, in turn, is confused and upset, because what Gimpy says is true, yet at the same time, he is doing something terribly wrong. Charlie's change in mental ability has not prepared him to deal with the complicated realities of day-to-day living.