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 3 Summary

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On March 5, Charlie meets with Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur to discuss the Rorschach test. Charlie defensively tells them that he did not spill the ink on the cards, nor could he see anything in the blots as Burt wanted him to. Strauss and Nemur assure Charlie that they may still be able to use him. When Charlie says that Miss Kinnian never gave him any tests except reading and writing, Dr. Strauss mentions that his teacher said he was the best pupil as far as effort and motivation. Charlie explains that he went to Beekman University Center because he wanted to be smart. His mother always told him to “try harder” to be smart, but he never was able to make much progress in school. Even in Miss Kinnian’s class, Charlie confesses that he has no long-term memory.

Strauss and Nemur explain to Charlie that the experiment they want to do has worked only with animals so far. They are not even sure that it will work on humans, but Charlie says he does not care, even if it hurts. He promises that he will work hard and get smart if they will use him for the experiment.

The doctors explain that before they can perform the surgery, they will have to get permission from his family. As a handicapped person, he is not deemed competent to give them legal permission. Charlie says that his uncle Herman, who used to take care of him, is dead. He has not been in contact with his parents or his younger sister, Norma, for some time, but he thinks they live in Brooklyn.  Strauss promises that he will try to get in touch with them for permission.

Charlie confesses that writing the progress reports had caused him to lose sleep. He is clumsy at work, dropping things and making his supervisor, Gimpy, angry. Charlie counts him as a friend, even though Gimpy yells and laughs at him. At this point in the novel, Charlie cannot tell the true nature of the relationships that he has with others. Charlie looks forward to Gimpy’s reaction when Charlie becomes smart after the operation.

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