Abstract illustration of a mouse inside a white human head inside a red human head

Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

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Progress Report 10 Summary

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Charlie’s intelligence grows, including his problem-solving abilities. He devises a new layout of the mixing machines at the bakery, increasing the speed of production. Mr. Donner is impressed, giving him a raise and a bonus. Charlie wants to celebrate with his coworkers, but the men are becoming distant, even afraid of Charlie. Charlie believes that with time they will get used to the changes in him.

He remembers the times when Frank tormented him and Gimpy stood up for him. In one incident, Gimpy wanted to teach Charlie how to make rolls, promising a medal made out of a tin lid. Patiently showing him, Gimpy repeated the steps over and over, but Charlie could not remember. In disappointment, Gimpy told him to go back to his seat. Charlie felt like crying. As he returned to his chair and his comic book, Gimpy quietly gave him the medal anyway. In reflection, Charley sees how kind it was of Gimpy to do this. Previously, Charlie had thought only of the many times his coworkers at the bakery had made fun of him. His increasing intelligence has led him to a level of maturity at which he can also see the good.

As Charlie matures, so do his emotions. Because his fellow workers at the bakery do not want to celebrate his raise with him, he decides he will ask Miss Kinnian. He decides he had better ask Dr. Strauss or Professor Nemur their thoughts on this plan. Dr. Strauss has agreed that Charlie has reached the point where not all of his thoughts should be read. He allows Charlie to keep some of the progress reports private, to be examined only when the final report to the Welberg Foundation, which had funded the grant for the experiment, was due.

Charlie drops by the office to ask the advice of the scientists and overhears them arguing. Used to being treated as invisible, Charlie listens to their conversation. Professor Nemur plans to reveal the results of Charlie’s operation to a convention in Chicago in six weeks. Dr. Strauss believes strongly that this is still too soon, as Charlie is still progressing. Professor Nemur feels that the concern over regression is past, that nothing can go wrong now. Professor Nemur pulls rank as the senior member of the team, and there is quite a bit of name-calling. Charlie decides to wait until the next day to ask about his date with Miss Kinnian.

Charlie hangs around the college cafeteria more, listening in on the conversations of the students. He feels he can so easily join in, but he does not, feeling still like an outsider. In a dream, he remembers an argument between his parents. His mother wanted him to return to school, believing that with effort he will eventually become “normal.” His father tries to convince her that this is impossible and that they should accept him the way he is. Charlie looks back at himself in the third person, as if that child were a totally different identity. The boy listens to the argument, becoming frightened and needing to go to the bathroom, but he is too scared. He defecates his pants. At that moment, Charlie remembers that his mother’s name was Rose and his father's name was Matt.

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