Flowers for Algernon Progress Report 5 Summary

Daniel Keyes

Progress Report 5 Summary

On the same day, March 6, Charlie is present during a discussion among Strauss, Nemur, and Burt Seldon. Charlie’s sister, Norma, has been found and has granted permission for the operation. Professor Nemur, however, is hesitant about using Charlie. Strauss states that Charlie is the best candidate of all those tested. Burt adds that Miss Kinnian recommends him as the best of all her pupils at Beekman University, the source for the test subjects. Strauss emphasizes that Charlie has a high level of motivation for a person with a 68 IQ. He explains to Charlie that "motivation" is something that Algernon has as well; for the mouse, the motivation is cheese. Charlie is confused, since he says he did not have cheese that week.

Professor Nemur is worried that raising Charlie’s IQ from such a low level to an extremely high one could seriously harm Charlie. The conversation gets technical, so Charlie tries to dictate the words as he hears them. Using asterisks for words he does not completely catch, Charlie demonstrates that he has some measure of self-monitoring, another key factor in the possible success of the experiment. It is evident from the conversation that Professor Nemur is intent on creating a race of “intellectual supermen,” of which Charlie will be only the first. Strauss points out that, unlike Charlie, most people at a 68 IQ level are hostile, uncooperative, dull, apathetic, and hard to reach. Charlie’s good nature makes him an ideal candidate.

Professor Nemur tells Charlie that the experiment has worked only on animals like Algernon. The scientists are not sure of the effect on humans. There might be no difference, or there might be a temporary increase in intelligence that will decrease eventually to a level even lower than what Charlie has now. Charlie might thus be even less independent and would need to return to the Warren group home for care, unable to live by himself or support himself with the wages from his job at Donner’s Bakery. Charlie, however, is not afraid. He believes in the luck of his rabbit’s foot. Dr. Strauss tells him that even if the experiment fails, Charlie will be making a significant contribution to science. Charlie vows to try hard to make the experiment a success, grateful for the second chance at life that the surgery offers him.