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Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

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Progress Report 16 Summary

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Charlie goes out to the Warren state home. He is initially shocked at the condition of the four thousand residents. They are classified into “tidy” and “untidy,” depending on their level of independence. He contemplates that eventually he will most likely be one of those residents.

Alice and Fay meet at Charlie’s apartment. Alice is intrigued by the carefree nature of the other woman, but she is more concerned about Charlie’s drinking. Eventually, Charlie feels that Fay becomes too possessive. He moves a cot into the lab, and Fay finds another boyfriend.

Charlie works almost around the clock on his investigation of the intellectual regression of Algernon. He knows that his own time is limited, and thus he must find the answer before his own regression commences. He feels that he keeps going down blind alleys, similar to the mazes that tested Algernon, who is now unable to complete them. At a party for the Welberg Foundation, Charlie is confronted by Professor Nemur’s wife. Unable to take her condescension, Charlie tells Nemur that he is tired of being treated as a lab specimen. He was a person even before the operation, and now he must race against time to find the errors in Nemur’s work. He leaves the party and walks home.

Charlie finds the solution to his investigation, only to prove that the intellectual progression is temporary, with the regression equal to the rise in intelligence. As fast as Charlie advanced within a few months, he will fall just as swiftly. He sends off a paper on what he calls the “Algernon-Gordon Effect” to Professor Nemur. He breaks the news to Alice, who cries when she hears. Nemur confirms Charlie’s findings.

Charlie decides he must visit his mother before his regression has reached the point where he can no longer function independently. He wants her to see he is the “normal” person she always thought he could be. When he goes to his old home, he finds that his mother is suffering from senility and is taken care of by Norma. Only for brief moments is she lucid enough to recognize Charlie and to take pride in his accomplishments. When Norma comes home, she tells him that she had tried to visit him before his operation. Their mother had told her that Charlie was dead. She is sorry for the way she had treated Charlie when they were children. Charlie can tell that she has matured. He promises to send her money as long as he can. He cries as he leaves and sees the shadow Charlie staring at him from the window.

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Progress Report 15 Summary


Progress Report 17 Summary