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Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

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When did Charlie make a connection between Algernon's erratic behavior and his own intelligence? 

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On May 23rd, when Charlie comes into the lab, he records that Algernon bit him. Charlie also notes that Algernon is "unusually disturbed and vicious." By May 25th, Algernon's behavior has gotten worse, and he won't work his shifting lock project. While people tell Charlie he shouldn't assume that Algernon's problems have any implications for his own situation, Charlie strongly suspects that they do by this time.

As a result, Charlie does what he asked not to do: he spends all his time in the lab. By May 31st, he writes that he has to know if and when he will start to regress like Algernon.

On June 4th, Charlie states in a letter that he knows with certainty his own experiment is a failure, meaning he knows that what is happening to Algernon will happen to him. He has done the math, had it checked a dozen times, and can't argue with the facts. He will become mentally handicapped again. Because he is so intelligent at this point, it doesn't take Charlie long between noticing Algernon's strange behavior and connecting it to his own fate.

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In Daniel Keyes's Flowers for Algernon, Charlie makes a mental connection between Algernon's erratic behavior and his own fate while at the conference in Chicago, detailed in "Progress Report 13."

During the conference, Charlie realizes that Professor Nemur had made a mistake in his calculations. Nemur had known that there would be a waiting period to see if Charlie's intelligence remained permanently steady or diminished; however, Nemur had calculated the waiting period based on the waiting periods of "normally dull or normally intelligent animals." Charlie knew Nemur hadn't realized that the waiting period would need to be increased if the animal's "intelligence had been increased two or three times." Charlie then realizes that Algernon's erratic behavior was a sign that his intelligence was diminishing and that that would be his fate as well. It is at this moment of realization that Charlie most feels like a dehumanized science experiment. It is hearing Nemur refer to their work as having transformed Charlie from "a burden on society" into a superhuman being coupled with the understanding that their experiment failed which makes Charlie feel the most dehumanized.

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