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Charlie is chosen for the operation because of his tremendous drive and motivation to improve himself and smarter. He is probably the most motivated student at the Beekman University Center for Retarded Adults where he takes classes with Alice Kinnian. She is so impressed with Charlie's drive that she recommends Charlie for the procedure. The doctors obviously want someone with strong motivation because there will be so much work after the operation. "Before the operation, Charlie is perceived as a 'good, simple man' and a 'likeable, retarded young man.' His main goal in undergoing the operation is "to be smart like other pepul so I can have lots of friends who like me.'"
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