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 9 Summary

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On April Fools' Day, Charlie’s coworkers plan to play a trick by getting Charlie to run the bread-making machine, a task that usually takes a year in baking school to accomplish. When Charlie is able to do this, and to do it better than the previous worker, the crowd is silenced and eventually becomes sullen.

In his studies, Charlie is progressing rapidly. He is able to look up words he does not know how to spell. In addition to his subconscious nighttime routine and his lessons with Miss Kinnian, Charlie is able to read independently. His memory also is improving. He remembers several incidents from his childhood. He connects an incident involving a girl in his class with his blossoming feelings for Miss Kinnian. When Charlie’s coworkers take him to a party and convince a girl to dance suggestively against him, Charlie becomes aroused, and that night he has a nocturnal emission. Dr. Strauss tells him that his intellect is maturing more than his emotions, and Charlie admits that he does not understand women at all.

One important outcome of his experience at the party is that he realizes his coworkers are not his friends: their laughter is the result of mockery, not camaraderie. He is shocked and depressed to discover he has been made a fool. He becomes very sensitive to any insinuation of laughter at his expense. When Burt has him again try the Rorschach Test, Charlie grows angry. He begins to see pictures in the inkblots, but he still feels that somehow Burt tricked him the first time.

Charlie’s dreams center on childhood experiences of being humiliated by others. He recalls a fellow student writing a dirty note to a girl and signing Charlie’s name to it. He remembers being knocked down and urinated upon by a group of boys. His reactions indicate that he is becoming more emotionally mature, seeing relationships in a truer light than he had previously.

Charlie’s personal reading expands. His IQ is now 100, the statistical average for intelligence. His progress reports are more detailed as well as grammatically correct. His self-revelation in the reports begins to bother him, as he knows that they are being read by Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur. He plans to keep some of his reports private.

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