Flowers for Algernon

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Charlie Gordon Character Analysis

The protagonist and narrator of Flowers for Algernon, Charlie Gordon starts out as a kindhearted, mentally challenged man in his early 30s, who is then given an incredible chance to become a genius when he’s selected for experimental brain surgery. After his IQ triples, Charlie must come to terms with his new life. He quickly discovers that his coworkers, who he thought were his friends, actually look down on him—a decision that shakes his faith in people. Charlie also strikes up a romance with his former teacher, Alice Kinnian—a romance that lasts most of the book, though it’s disrupted at times by Charlie’s traumatic childhood, which has made it difficult for him to experience sexual pleasure of any kind. As Charlie becomes internationally recognized for his brilliance, he shows his arrogance—arguably the very quality that led him to be selected for surgery in the first place. In spite of his pride, Charlie slowly learns emotional maturity, coming to terms with his family and with Alice. Tragically, Charlie loses his genius at the novels end and declines into intellectual disability once again. Yet he doesn’t regret the time he spent as a genius—he’s used his time to solve major scientific puzzles and perform research that he hopes will help millions of people one day.

Charlie Gordon Quotes in Flowers for Algernon

The Flowers for Algernon quotes below are all either spoken by Charlie Gordon or refer to Charlie Gordon . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ignorance, Intelligence, and Happiness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt edition of Flowers for Algernon published in 1994.
3d progris riport Quotes

He said Miss Kinnian tolld him I was her bestist pupil in the Beekman School for retarted adults and I tryed the hardist becaus I reely wantd to lern I wantid it more even then pepul who are smarter even then me.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Alice Kinnian
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

In the early chapters of the novel, Charlie Gordon's IQ is very low--he can barely read or write. But as this quotation makes clear, he's also incredibly ambitious and determined to improve his mind. Charlie attends night classes taught by Miss Kinnian--the woman who ultimately recommends Charlie for the controversial brain surgery that makes him into a genius.

Charlie's ambition, one could say, is his greatest strength and (as we will see shortly) his greatest weakness. It's also the quality that first makes him the novel's "hero." Even if we can't really understand Charlie's way of looking at the world, we can identify with his ambition to improve himself and become more successful and talented. Charlie is a tragic hero, who rises and falls over the course of the novel due to his appetite for glory.

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Progris riport 5 Quotes

Dr Strauss said I had something that was very good. He said I had a good motor-vation. I never even knowed I had that. I felt good when he said not everbody with an eye-Q of 68 had that thing like I had it. I dont know what it is or where I got it but he said Algernon had it too.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Algernon , Doctor Strauss
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie talks to Dr. Strauss, one of the scientists who will mastermind Charlie's brain surgery--a procedure that will soon make him a genius. Dr. Strauss explains that the procedure will increase Charlie's IQ rapidly. He also adds that he's chosen Charlie for the procedure because of Charlie's drive and motivation to succeed.

Charlie's motivation to succeed is--as we've already seen--his defining quality. But it's also important to note that Charlie feels "good" when Strauss praises his motivation. Charlie already feels pride in his abilities. Indeed, it's Charlie's pride, as much as his motivation, that pushes him to attend night classes, learn to read, and (eventually), get brain surgery. He doesn't just want to learn how to read: he wants other people to recognize that he's learned how to read and praise him for it. Charlie's desire for recognition is rooted in a conflicted relationship with his own parents--a relationship we won't fully understand until the novel is over.

Progress Report 7 Quotes

If your smart you can have lots of fiends to talk to and you never get lonley by yourself all the time.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Charlie explains why he wants to become smart: he wants to have more friends. Charlie is confident that intelligence is a path to a better social life: brain power will help him talk to the people around him and make them more likely to talk to him and like him.

There are two ways to interpret Charlie's quotation, one positive, one rather tragic. On one hand, Charlie's desire for human contact seems innocent and highly poignant. Charlie is bullied and ignored at his job (although he doesn't yet know it), and he doesn't have a family that loves him (his family abandoned him years ago). In all, he craves friends to fill the void in his social life. But on the other hand, this quote expresses the tragically naive view that with greater intelligence comes greater happiness and love. This isn't always the case, as Charlie finds out--indeed, he's arguably at his most "blissful" when he's most "ignorant."

Well I tolld her that made me kind of feel bad because I thot I was going to be smart rite away and I coud go back to show the guys at the bakery how smart I am and talk with them about things and mabye even get to be an assistint baker. Then I was gone to try and find my mom and dad. They woud be serprised to see how smart I got because my mom always wanted me too be smart to. Mabey they woudnt send me away no more if they see how smart I am.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Alice Kinnian , Rose Gordon (Charlie’s mother) , Matt Gordon
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie has just been told that his brain surgery will make him smart, but not overnight. On the contrary, he'll have to work exceptionally hard after his surgery to ensure that his mind absorbs new information and grows to its full potential. Charlie is disappointed by the news, because he wants to become more intelligent, more popular, and more loved as soon as possible.

The passage is important because it spells out, in the plainest terms, the link between Charlie's tragic childhood and his desire for success and popularity. Charlie was an unloved child--because of his mother's behavior, he was made to feel ashamed of his low IQ and clumsy behavior. As a result, Charlie has been conditioned to feel a constant desire to please other people--a desire that's led him to learn to read and write at night class. Like many a tragic literary hero, Charlie seeks approval and prestige because he never enjoyed the love of his parents and siblings. 

Progress Report 8 Quotes

We had a lot of fun at the bakery today. Joe Carp said hey look where Charlie had his operashun what did they do Charlie put some brains in. I was going to tell him about me getting smart but I remembered Prof Nemur said no. Then Frank Reilly said what did you do Charlie open a door the hard way. That made me laff. Their my frends and they really like me.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Professor Harold Nemur , Joe Carp , Frank Reilly
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

This quotation is a good example of dramatic irony--a situation in which a character is ignorant to some important information, but the reader is well aware of it. Here, Charlie--bearing a big scar from his brain surgery, but still with his low IQ for the time being--doesn't realize that the people at the bakery are making fun of him in the cruelest way; as far as he's concerned, they're his best friends.

One important question that the passage might lead us to ask is, does Charlie realize on any level that his coworkers don't really like him? His statement, "Their my friends," would suggest that Charlie is completely ignorant of his coworkers' meanness. And yet Charlie also seems to feel, on some level, that his friendships with his coworkers are threadbare because of his low IQ. Even if he doesn't know exactly why Joe Carp is laughing at him in this scene, perhaps Charlie senses that he's distanced from the people around him by his intelligence--and this is precisely why he wants brain surgery in the first place.

Frank laffed and said dont go getting so eddicated that you wont talk to your old frends. I said dont worry I will always keep my old frends even if I can read and rite. He was laffing and Joe Carp was laffing but Gimpy came in and told them to get back to making rolls. They are all good frends to me.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Joe Carp , Frank Reilly , Gimpy
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Charlie (who's just had his brain surgery, but isn't a genius yet) interacts with his "friends" at the bakery. One coworker, Frank, is clearly mocking Charlie--he doesn't believe that Charlie will ever become a genius, since Charlie has always been a slow, clumsy employee.

On a narrative level, this quote is important because it sets us up for a later scene, in which Frank is punished and humiliated for ever doubting Charlie's potential for intelligence. But the passage is also interesting in that it marks some of the differences between Charlie's coworkers; in other words, the passage makes it clear that not all of Charlie's "friends" bully him. Gimpy, if no one else, seems to genuinely like Charlie and look after him, even if Gimpy would never be openly affectionate or sentimental with him.

Progress Report 9 Quotes

Now I know what they mean when they say "to pull a Charlie Gordon." I'm ashamed. And another thing. I dreamed about that girl Ellen dancing and rubbing up against me and when I woke up the sheets were wet and messy.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Ellen
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie--who's had brain surgery, and is slowly becoming more intelligent--realizes that his coworkers laugh at him for his stupidity. Charlie is immediately embarrassed. It's interesting to note that Charlie's first reaction to the news that he's a punching bag for his coworkers isn't anger--his shame outweighs his anger. As we've already seen, Charlie has been dealing with embarrassment his entire life. He's so used to apologizing for his low intelligence that it doesn't yet occur to him that his coworkers at the bakery are really at fault, not him.

The other notable part of this passage is the information that Charlie has had a "wet dream" after seeing an attractive woman. As Charlie gains intellectual maturity, he's also thrust into the world of emotional and sexual maturity. (It's also worth noting that the passage echoes the Biblical book of Genesis: just as Adam and Eve become ashamed of their nakedness at the same instant that they gain knowledge, so Charlie simultaneously becomes embarrassed and sexually aware with his new intelligence.)

I told him one of the things that bothers me is about women. Like dancing with that girl Ellen got me all excited. So we talked about it and I got a funny feeling while I was talking, cold and sweaty, and a buzzing inside my head and I thought I was going to throw up. Maybe because I always thought it was dirty and bad to talk about that. But Dr Strauss said what happened to me after the party was a wet dream, and it's a natural thing that happens to boys. So even if I'm getting intelligent and learning a lot of new things, he thinks I'm still a boy about women. It's confusing, but I'm going to find out all about my life.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Doctor Strauss , Ellen
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie tries to come to terms with a new side of his personality--his sexuality. For the first chapters of the novel, Charlie has essentially been a child--a slow, clumsy boy trapped in a man's body. Now, thanks to his brain surgery, Charlie is becoming a genius, but he's also transforming from an immature young boy to a mature man in a matter of weeks. Charlie has danced with a beautiful woman, and then had a wet dream about her. Dr. Strauss's job is to counsel Charlie through his experiences with the brain surgery--here, for example, he explains a few things about sex to Charlie.

It's important to bear in mind that Charlie's story isn't just one of intellectual discovery; it's also one of emotional development. While Keyes will give us plenty of information about Charlie's scientific and musical pursuits, the heart of his story is Charlie's search for love--a stable, adult relationship with another woman. In this quotation, Charlie takes the first, cautious steps toward such a relationship.

"You mean there are no pictures hidden in those inkblots?"
Burt frowned and took off his glasses. "What?"
"Pictures! Hidden in the inkblots! Last time you told me that everyone could see them and you wanted me to find them too."

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Burt Seldon
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie, now a man of average intelligence, has a conversation with Burt Seldon, a technician and graduate student who's been tasked with overseeing Charlie's transformation to genius. Previously, Charlie has taken a series of inkblot tests (Rorschach tests) with Burt. Charlie misinterpreted Burt's explanation of the test to mean that there were literal pictures in the inkblot; i.e., that the test had a correct answer. Now that Charlie is intelligent enough to realize that the inkblots have no actual pictures in them, he accuses Burt of lying about the tests.

Charlie's reaction demonstrates his frustration; not only with Burt but with himself. Although he's taking out his anger on Burt, Charlie is really furious at himself for having been foolish enough to believe that there was a correct answer to an inkblot test. In this way, the scene shows how Charlie is beginning to hate himself and hate intellectually disabled people in general. Already, Charlie is rejecting the naivete and simplicity that used to characterize his worldview--he's looking ahead to a bright future of intellectual achievement, but forgetting where he came from.

Progress Report 10 Quotes

I spend most of my free time at the library now, reading and soaking up what I can from books. I'm not concentrating on anything in particular, just reading a lot of fiction now—Dostoevski, Flaubert, Dickens, Hemingway, Faulkner—everything I can get my hands on feeding a hunger that can't be satisfied.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie becomes more intelligent, he develops a deep love for world literature, and devours several book a day. He spends a lot of time in libraries, reading as much as he can (and attracting a lot of attention for doing so).

It's interesting to note that Charlie describes his desire for intellectual stimulation as a hunger that cannot be satisfied. In general, Charlie's description of the intellectual life suggests the tragic proportions of his story. An ambitious, driven man, Charlie strives for greatness and prestige, only to realize that his drive will never, ever disappear. His endless need to learn is at once disturbing and deeply relatable for readers: we've all felt that gnawing sense of curiosity, and then been disappointed when it doesn't go away. One could say that Charlie represents humanity's ambition to be great, and simultaneously its utter failure to be so.

Progress Report 11 Quotes

"Charlie, you amaze me. In some ways you're so advanced, and yet when it comes to making a decision, you're still a child. I can't decide for you, Charlie. The answer can't be found in books—or be solved by bringing it to other people. Not unless you want to remain a child all your life. You've got to find the answer inside you—feel the right thing to do. Charlie, you've got to learn to trust yourself."

Related Characters: Alice Kinnian (speaker), Charlie Gordon
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie becomes increasingly intelligent, he also becomes aware of the astonishing gaps in his knowledge. Charlie has witnessed his only friend and protector at the bakery, Gimpy, stealing money from the store. Charlie's unsure how to go about "solving" this problem, and he's concerned that there's no branch of human knowledge that can tell him how to proceed. Here, Charlie's mentor, Alice Kinnian (the same woman who once taught Charlie to read and write, and who recommended Charlie for brain surgery), tells Charlie the truth: he doesn't know anything about morality, in spite of his "book learning." Furthermore, Charlie will have to trust his own moral instincts when dealing with Gimpy.

The passage is important because it suggests some of the strengths and limitations of Charlie's brain surgery. A higher IQ means that Charlie can discover new knowledge and savor the pleasure of finding things out. And yet Charlie's new intelligence also causes him some new problems: he feels the sting of guilt, regret, and here, moral uncertainty. He's now forced to make the moral decisions that all adults must make--in other words, he's becoming not only more intelligent but more mature. The "tradeoff" of intelligence, one could say, is that Charlie sacrifices his blissful ignorance, and yet gets the opportunity to become sensitive, mature, and wise.

She stared down at the bride and groom on the wedding cake she was decorating and I could see her lips barely move as she whispered: "It was evil when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. It was evil when they saw they was naked, and learned about lust and shame. And they was driven out of Paradise and the gates was closed to them. If not for that none of us would have to grow old and be sick and die."
There was nothing more to say, to her or to the rest of them. None of them would look into my eyes. I can still feel the hostility. Before, they had laughed at me, despising me for my ignorance and dullness; now, they hated me for my knowledge and understanding. Why? What in God's name did they want of me?

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Fanny Birden (speaker)
Related Symbols: Adam and Eve
Page Number: 107-108
Explanation and Analysis:

One of Charlie's coworkers at the bakery, a woman named Fanny Birden, tells Charlie about the "danger" of his brain surgery. By gaining intelligence, Fanny suggests, Charlie is sacrificing his innocence and childlike goodness. Fanny makes this claim by citing the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, in which the first human beings lost their innocence and innate goodness by eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

We've already had ample evidence for the point Fanny is making. Charlie, newly intelligent, is indeed becoming a little arrogant, a little pompous, and a little dismissive of those who are intellectually inferior to him (i.e., almost everybody). Previously, Charlie was a cheerful, carefree man, blissfully unaware that his coworkers were making fun of him. By becoming intelligent, Charlie has 1) become a ruder, less "moral" person and 2) become more miserable, as he realizes that he has even fewer friends than he'd thought. There really does seem to be a tradeoff between intelligence and morality--and, even more to the point, between intelligence and happiness.

Ultimately, though, it's not clear if Keyes really agrees with Fanny. It's true that the newly intelligent Charlie is rude, arrogant, and even cruel. And yet Charlie also has the opportunity to be good and moral, in a way that was utterly beyond him before his surgery. A mentally disabled Charlie Gordon can't solve complex moral problems in a way that benefits everyone, or publish scientific articles that will save thousands of lives. One could say that Charlie's new intelligence (and, for that matter, Adam and Eve's newfound sinfulness) is a challenge: he can either be more sinful than he ever was before, or he can use his brain to climb to new heights of glory and goodness.

Progress Report 13 Quotes

A funny thing about Guarino. I should resent him for what he did to me, and for taking advantage of Rose and Matt, but somehow I can't. After that first day, he was always pleasant to me. There was always the pat on the shoulder, the smile, the encouraging word that came my way so rarely.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Rose Gordon (Charlie’s mother) , Matt Gordon , Dr. Guarino
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie remembers an episode from his childhood that he’d previously repressed. His parents, desperate to make him intelligent by any means necessary, hired a quack doctor, Guarino, to “put some brains” in Charlie. Guarino was, of course, a con artist, who stole Charlie’s parents’ money and did nothing at all to make Charlie more intelligent. Strangely, though, Charlie doesn’t resent Guarino. On the contrary, he remembers Guarido fondly for treating him as an equal, or at least a human being. As the passage suggests, Charlie is still desperate for the validation and approval of his peers. He’s been treated as a outcast or a freak for so long that any semblance of politeness or normality thrown his way is a blessing. Now a genius, Charlie overcompensates for the decades during which he was mocked and bullied by seeking the validation of millions.

"Take it easy, Charlie. The old man is on edge. This convention means a lot to him. His reputation is at stake."
"I didn't know you were so close to him," I taunted, recalling all the times Burt had complained about the professor's narrowness and pushing.
"I'm not close to him." He looked at me defiantly. "But he's put his whole life into this. He's no Freud or Jung or Pavlov or Watson, but he's doing something important and I respect his dedication—maybe even more cause he's just an ordinary man trying to do a great man's work, while the great men are all busy making bombs."

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Burt Seldon (speaker), Professor Harold Nemur
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, Charlie and Professor Nemur have traveled to Chicago for a major medical conference. Nemur, the doctor who masterminded Charlie’s brain surgery, is looking forward to presenting on his new procedure. Charlie has come to resent Nemur for treating him as a pawn, rather than a human being—Charlie believes (and with good reason) that Nemur is just using him to gain acclaim in the scientific community. Charlie’s friend and mentor, Burt, defends Nemur by praising his drive and determination.

It’s interesting to note that Burt highlights the same qualities that first brought Charlie to Nemur’s attention. Just as Charlie has striven to be smarter and more successful, so too has Nemur—who's well aware of the fact that he’s not a genius—tried to become the best he can be. Furthermore, Burt’s comment that Nemur is doing good work while great men build bombs reminds us of an important distinction between intelligence and morality. Being smart is no guarantee of a happy, productive life—one could spend one’s life building machines of war. It’s only when one combines intelligence with a strong sense of right and wrong that it’s possible to be a “good” human being. Charlie, already a genius, will have to educate himself in ethics and morality to become good.

After the chairman announced the presentation from Beekman University, we took our seats on the platform behind the long table—Algernon in his cage between Burt and me. We were the main attraction of the evening, and when we were settled, the chairman began his introduction. I half expected to bear him boom out: Laideezzz and gentulmennnnnn. Step right this way and see the side show! An act never before seen in the scientific world! A mouse and a moron turned into geniuses before your very eyes!

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Algernon , Professor Harold Nemur , Burt Seldon
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

At a major medical conference, Charlie and Professor Nemur appear to answer questions about Charlie’s brain surgery. As Charlie prepares for the presentation, he has the distinct sense that he’s been exhibited at a circus. In other words, Charlie still thinks of himself as a sideshow freak, not even a human being. It’s hard to deny that Charlie has a point: the doctors who’ve attended the medical conference think of Charlie as a pawn, a convenient “example” of Nemur’s ideas. Charlie first volunteered for brain surgery because he thought intelligence would help him gain new friends who respected him as a human being. But here, it becomes clear that the opposite is true: Charlie is more of a “freak” than he ever was before—the doctors who admire his intelligence have no intention of engaging with him on a personal level.

Progress Report 14 Quotes

Somehow, getting drunk had momentarily broken down the conscious barriers that kept the old Charlie Gordon hidden deep in my mind. As I suspected all along, he was not really gone. Nothing in our minds is ever really gone. The operation had covered him over with a veneer of education and culture, but emotionally he was there—watching and waiting.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Related Symbols: Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie)
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie comes to realize that in spite of his new intelligence, in his subconscious he's still a mentally disabled, emotionally underdeveloped man--and he can access this side of his personality whenever he gets drunk. Moreover, Charlie discovers that he's been repressing memories of his childhood. As a mentally challenged man, he was incapable of remembering much about his parents, his experiences in school, etc. (There's even some suggestion that his mind unconsciously repressed these memories because they were so painful.) But now, Charlie remembers many details about his past; these details were "waiting" in his mind all along. As he says here, "Nothing in our minds is ever really gone."

Charlie's realization foreshadows the novel's pessimistic conclusion. Charlie, working with Professor Nemur, tries to escape his tragic past--he tries to become intelligent and forget that there was ever a time when he couldn't add, read, or write. But in the end, Charlie is unable to escape his past--no amount of surgery can change who he is.


There is so much that can be done with this technique, if it is perfected. If I could be made into a genius, what about the more than five million mentally retarded in the United States? What about the countless millions all over the world, and those yet unborn destined to be retarded? What fantastic levels might be achieved by using this technique on normal people. On geniuses?

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie, now a talented medical doctor himself, fantasizes about what Professor Nemur's procedure could do to help the people of the world. He imagines using his newfound medical expertise to treat other mentally challenged people, giving them the same gift of intelligence that he was given.

This passage walks a fine line between arrogance and humility. On one hand, it shows Charlie striving to use his intelligence for the good of other people, rather than using it to show off and belittle his companions. Charlie isn't yet at the point where he's forgotten his years of mental disability--he continues to sympathize with those who've been born with a low IQ. And yet the passage also shows Charlie as his most arrogant and ambitious. In the same sense that Professor Nemur has arrogantly treated Charlie as his "creation," Charlie wants to operate on millions of other mentally disabled patients, attaining fame and prestige for himself in the process.

Then, with a violent effort of the will, I was back on the couch with her, aware of her body and my own urgency and potency, and I saw the face against the window, hungrily watching. And I thought to myself, go ahead, you poor bastard—watch. I don't give a damn any more. And his eyes went wide as he watched.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Fay Lillman
Related Symbols: Charlie’s Hallucinations (younger Charlie)
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie becomes more intelligent and self-aware, he begins to hallucinate a young boy--the childhood version of Charlie himself. This young version of Charlie "watches" Charlie almost constantly, but especially when Charlie is engaging in behavior that he couldn't have managed when he was mentally disabled. In this scene, Charlie is about to have sexual intercourse with Fay Lillman, his neighbor. Although Charlie feels "young Charlie" watching him, he decides that he doesn't care--he continues having sex, daring his young self to do anything about it.

The presence of "young Charlie" in Charlie's mind suggests that he's still haunted by his past--the years during which he was humiliated and teased for his disability. As Charlie becomes more mature and experienced, he comes to resent young Charlie--he hates that there was ever a time in his life when he had a low IQ and feared his own sexuality. Here, Charlie seems to make peace with his troubled past (he no longer cares), and yet he also clearly hates his former self.

Progress Report 16 Quotes

If I can find that out, and if it adds even one jot of information to whatever else has been discovered about mental retardation and the possibility of helping others like myself, I will be satisfied. Whatever happens to me, I will have lived a thousand normal lives by what I might add to others not yet born.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

Charlie becomes suspicious that his brain surgery will wear off over time--although he's become a genius, eventually he'll regress to mental disability once again. In the time he has left as a genius, Charlie decides to research his own surgical procedure. As he makes clear in the quotation, he wants to leave a lasting scientific legacy, which will go on to benefit thousands of patients around the world.

The fact that Charlie, blessed with intelligence, can conduct research that could help other human beings reminds us that--contrary to what Fanny Birden claimed--intelligence and morality aren't mutually exclusive. It's possible to be smart and good; indeed, a smart person is capable of some acts of goodness far beyond what a mentally disabled person could imagine. Of course, it's also true that the quote shows Charlie at his greediest and most ambitious: he wants to be remembered forever, and thinks that he can gain a kind of immorality by leaving a legacy behind.

I was seeing myself as I really had become: Nemur had said it. I was an arrogant, self-centered bastard. Unlike Charlie, I was incapable of making friends or thinking about other people and their problems. I was interested in myself, and myself only. For one long moment in that mirror I had seen myself through Charlie's eyes—looked down at myself and saw what I had really become. And I was ashamed.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Professor Harold Nemur
Page Number: 252-253
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie spends more time as an intelligent person, he becomes increasingly self-aware. Here, he stares in the mirror and realizes that he's become a pompous, arrogant man. Charlie also decides that as a mentally disabled man, he was happier, more moral, and friendlier than he is now.

Although Charlie himself seems to believe that his intelligence has been a horrible burden--making him a meaner, less friendly person--Keyes wouldn't necessarily agree. Charlie has become more arrogant on account of his genius, but he's also completed acts of goodness on a scale that he couldn't have imagined before his surgery: he's conducted important medical research that will help other people live longer, healthier lives. And while he may have become less friendly, he's gained the gift of self-awareness: the ability to realize his own shortcomings and try to improve them. Previously, Charlie had tried to transform himself to gain the approval of his peers. But here, he seems to be acting out of a desire to please himself. Thanks to his brain surgery, Charlie has become more mature and emotionally intelligent: he's acting to make himself, not other people, happy.

Progress Report 17 Quotes

The only bad thing about having Alice here with me is that now I feel I should fight this thing. I want to stop time, freeze myself at this level and never let go of her.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Alice Kinnian
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Charlie--having realized that he's going to lose his intelligence and become mentally disabled once again--expresses a desire to "freeze time" and spend the rest of his life with Alice, the woman he's come to love.

Charlie's desires contrast markedly with his earlier ambitions to learn, make important scientific discoveries, and generally become a great man. Put another way, Charlie sacrifices some of his arrogance and hubris because of the emotional connection he feels for Alice. Although books have taught Charlie to seek fame and glory, Alice has taught Charlie emotional maturity: instead of the elusive pleasures of prestige or sex, Charlie has discovered the more profound pleasure of love.

You're right. I never said I could understand the things that were happening to you. Not when you became too intelligent for me, and not now. But I'll tell you one thing. Before you had the operation, you weren't like this. You didn't wallow in your own filth and self-pity, you didn't pollute your own mind by sitting in front of the TV set all day and night, you didn't snarl and snap at people. There was something about you that made us respect you—yes, even as you were. You had something I had never seen in a retarded person before.

Related Characters: Alice Kinnian (speaker), Charlie Gordon
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie begins to lose his intelligence, he becomes angry and frustrated. In particular, he fights with Alice Kinnian, the woman he loves. Alice tells Charlie that he shouldn't guard his intelligence so jealously--when he was mentally disabled, she insists, he was a kinder, more likable person. Now that he's a genius, Charlie is a frustrated, self-pitying man--not particularly likable at all.

Alice's claims support the idea that Charlie's brain surgery may have come at the cost of happiness and goodness. By gaining a high IQ, Charlie has become more self-absorbed, and in losing it he has become more bitter and irritable--to the point where he doesn't care about hurting other people's feelings, even Alice's.

I saw her through my kitchen window last week. I dont know her name, or even what her top part looks like but every night about eleven oclock she goes into her bathroom to take a bath. She never pulls her shade down and thru my window when I put out my lights I can see her from the neck down when she comes out of the bath to dry herself. It makes me excited, but when the lady turns out the light I feel let down and lonely.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker)
Page Number: 303
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie loses his intelligence more and more rapidly, he again becomes childlike in his sexuality and emotional maturity. Here, for instance, he spies on a woman who lives in the building opposite his own. Charlie is still capable of sexual desire, but he shows no signs of being capable of romantic love for another woman--he acts like an immature 12-year-old, peeping on his unfortunate neighbors. In other words, Charlie isn't just losing his mental capabilities--he's also losing his emotional intelligence. It remains to be seen whether all the experiences and wisdom he gained as a genius will stick with him even as his IQ drops.

If you ever reed this Miss Kinnian dont be sorry for me. Im glad I got a second chanse in life like you said to be smart because I lerned alot of things that I never even new were in this werld and Im grateful I saw it all even for a littel bit. And Im glad I found out all about my family and me. It was like I never had a family til I remembird about them and saw them and now I know I had a family and I was a person just like evryone.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Alice Kinnian
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Charlie sums up his experiences as a genius. Although one could say that Charlie's time with a high IQ has been futile (since he's losing his IQ in the end), Charlie himself disagrees. As he points out here, Charlie has gotten the chance to experience the pleasure of finding things out--a pleasure he'd always wanted to experience, even as a mentally disabled man. Moreover, Charlie has satisfied an even deeper desire--the desire to know that he has a family. During his time as a genius, Charlie tracked down his parents, and fell in love with a woman (Miss Kinnian herself). More simply and poignantly, Charlie now feels that he is "a person just like evryone"—he has gained an emotional maturity and self-confidence that cannot be taken from him.

P.S. please tel prof Nemur not to be such a grouch when pepul laff at him and he woud have more frends. Its easy to have fiends if you let pepul laff at you. Im going to have lots of fiends where I go.
P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard.

Related Characters: Charlie Gordon (speaker), Algernon , Professor Harold Nemur
Page Number: 311
Explanation and Analysis:

As Charlie regresses to mental disability once again, he embodies a childlike goodness. He tells Nemur to be nicer, and even asks someone to put flowers on the grave of Algernon, the mouse whose mental growth and decline paralleled his own.

As a genius, Charlie's relationship with right and wrong was uncertain--there were times when he did good, and there were times when he proved himself to be capable of acts of arrogance and cruelty. As a mentally disabled man, however, Charlie proves that he instinctively knows right from wrong: he feels compassion for things that more intelligent people would ignore, such as Algernon the mouse. He also shows himself to be insightful, "sizing up" Professor Nemur quickly (and surprisingly accurately!). In general, then, Charlie's final diary entry suggests the tradeoff between intelligence and wisdom. As a genius, Charlie has a hard time knowing the right thing to do, and has big moral lapses. As a mentally disabled man, Charlie doesn't have much knowledge, but he seems to be a good, honest person who always knows the right thing to do. So as depressing as the novel's end might be, there's a silver lining: Charlie loses his IQ, but gains some wisdom, and retains all his human dignity. 

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Charlie Gordon Character Timeline in Flowers for Algernon

The timeline below shows where the character Charlie Gordon appears in Flowers for Algernon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Progris riport 1
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Martch 3. A man named Charlie Gordon writes in clumsy, badly spelled English. He says that two men named Doctor Strauss... (full context)
Progris riport 2
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Martch 4. Charlie undergoes a series of psychological tests with Professor Nemur and Doctor Strauss. An assistant, whose... (full context)
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Martch 5. Charlie goes in for more tests with Doctor Strauss and Professor Nemur. Strauss is interested in... (full context)
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Professor Nemur tells Charlie that he would be undergoing a procedure that they’ve tried on animals—it’s not clear if... (full context)
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Charlie notes that because of writing progress reports and going in to see Strauss and Nemur,... (full context)
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March 5. Charlie goes in for more tests with Nemur and Strauss. He looks at pictures, and tries... (full context)
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Charlie meets with Burt Selden again (this time, Charlie remembers his last name), and performs other... (full context)
Progris riport 5
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March 6. Strauss and Nemur track down Charlie’s sister, Norma, who lived with Charlie’s mother in Brooklyn. Norma gives the doctors permission to... (full context)
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Nemur, Strauss, and Burt Selden meet with Charlie to talk about his upcoming experiment. They say that Miss Kinnian has recommended Charlie because... (full context)
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Professor Nemur expresses some doubts about using Charlie for the experiment, since there could be complications from the required surgery. Although Charlie doesn’t... (full context)
Progris riport 6
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March 8. Charlie is going to begin his surgery tomorrow, and he’s very nervous. Nemur has instructed him... (full context)
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Charlie imagines becoming smart and pleasing Miss Kinnian. He thinks about going to visit his family,... (full context)
Progress Report 7
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March 11. Charlie has had his operation, and he reports that it didn’t hurt. Afterwards, Charlie wears bandages... (full context)
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Charlie wonders when he’ll start to be smart. He imagines that being smart is wonderful: smart... (full context)
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March 12. Charlie stays in the hospital, tended by a nurse named Hilda. Hilda tells Charlie that he’s... (full context)
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March 13. Charlie gets a new nurse, named Lucille. Lucille is friendly, and shows Charlie how to spell.... (full context)
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Miss Kinnian visits Charlie, and Charlie tells her that he’s disappointed that he’s not smart yet. Kinnian tells Charlie... (full context)
Progress Report 8
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March 15. Charlie has left the hospital, though he hasn’t gone back to work yet. Professor Nemur gives... (full context)
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March 16. Charlie goes to the college where Burt works. He listens to college students talk about art,... (full context)
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Burt explains that Charlie’s experiment is being kept a secret, for fear that Nemur will get bad publicity if... (full context)
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March 17. Every day, Charlie wakes up and imagines that he’s going to be smart. He wonders if the experiment... (full context)
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March 20. Charlie goes back to work at the bakery, although he has instructions from Strauss not to... (full context)
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Doctor Strauss tells Charlie that he should continue making notes about his experiences. He adds that it’s going to... (full context)
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March 21. At the bakery, Joe Carp, another employee, teases Charlie. Although Joe doesn’t know about Charlie’s surgery, he notices the scar on Charlie’s head and... (full context)
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Mr. Donner, the owner of the bakery, tells Charlie that Charlie been working there for 17 years (he’s 32 now). Charlie’s Uncle Herman was... (full context)
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At work, “pulling a Charlie Gordon” is a common expression, meaning that someone has made an embarrassing mistake. Charlie doesn’t... (full context)
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March 24. Charlie is supposed to come to the science lab with Strauss and Nemur to conduct more... (full context)
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Professor Nemur gives Charlie a small device that looks like a TV—he explains that Charlie should listen to it... (full context)
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Charlie adds one last thing—he’s going to go back to his classes with Miss Kinnian. He... (full context)
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March 25. Charlie uses Professor Nemur’s machine, and finds it impossible to sleep while he’s listening to it.... (full context)
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March 26. Charlie continues to listen to his TV device before going to sleep, and finds it difficult... (full context)
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After work that day, Charlie follows Fanny’s directions to the adult learning center, where he finds a group of adult... (full context)
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March 27. Following his experiences with the TV device, Charlie goes to therapy sessions with Doctor Strauss. Charlie sits on a couch and talks about... (full context)
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March 28. Charlie gets headaches. He sleeps better, since Doctor Strauss has showed him how to turn down... (full context)
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Later on, Charlie goes to a party with his “friends” from work. At the party, Joe Carp and... (full context)
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That night, Charlie dreams about his parents. In the dream, Charlie cries while his parents lead him through... (full context)
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March 29. Charlie beats Algernon in a maze competition. He realizes that he’s getting smarter, even if he... (full context)
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Charlie takes pills to sleep more soundly. He remembers his Uncle Herman, a house painter. He... (full context)
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March 30. Charlie begins lessons with Miss Kinnian. He thinks that Miss Kinnian looks younger than he remembered... (full context)
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March 31. Miss Kinnian helps Charlie learn grammar and spelling. He’s frustrated with the rules of spelling—for example, that “through” and... (full context)
Progress Report 9
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April 1. Charlie begins a new job at the bakery—dough-mixer. He’s taking over for Oliver, who quit his... (full context)
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Charlie proceeds to work the dough-mixer, much to everyone’s surprise. Fanny Birden finds this very exciting,... (full context)
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April 3. Charlie finishes reading Robinson Crusoe and wants to know what happens next. (full context)
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April 4. Miss Kinnian reads through Charlie’s progress reports, and, according to Charlie, “looks kind of funny.” She tells Charlie that some... (full context)
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Charlie remembers his mother and his sister, Norma. When Norma was a baby, Charlie tried to... (full context)
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April 6. Charlie learns punctuation marks. He plays around with writing sentences, concluding, “Everybody, uses commas, so I’ll,... (full context)
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April 17. Charlie learns that he’s using commas incorrectly—there are rules about correct usage. He also realizes that... (full context)
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April 8. Charlie reads a book about grammar, recommended to him by Miss Kinnian. He also spends a... (full context)
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Charlie reads over his old progress reports, and is embarrassed to find that they’re full of... (full context)
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April 10. Charlie says that he feels “sick.” He explains that Joe Carp and Frank Reilly invited him... (full context)
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As this happened to Charlie, he remembered a day from his childhood, when the other children played “hide-and-go-seek” with him.... (full context)
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April 13. Charlie takes another day of work off. He’s been thinking about how his coworkers laugh at... (full context)
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Charlie continues to have vivid flashbacks of the past. He recalls a day long ago, when... (full context)
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April 14. Charlie visits with Doctor Strauss, who encourages him to continue writing down his memories. Charlie also... (full context)
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April 15. Charlie continues with his education. He starts teaching himself multiple foreign languages, and Doctor Strauss gives... (full context)
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April 16. Charlie is feeling more secure, though he’s still angry with his coworkers for laughing at him... (full context)
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Charlie learns about the concept of IQ from Doctor Strauss and Professor Nemur. Nemur and Strauss... (full context)
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April 17. Charlie has a nightmare about Miss Kinnian. In the nightmare, Charlie sits down to write, but... (full context)
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After he wakes up from his nightmare, Charlie tries to use a strategy Doctor Strauss has taught him: “free association.” He writes about... (full context)
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Charlie remembers that Harriet was a real person—she was beautiful and popular. For Valentines Day, Charlie... (full context)
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Thinking about his memory, Charlie realizes that he shouldn’t have asked Hymie to write Harriet the letter. He’s grateful he... (full context)
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April 18. Charlie takes a Rorschach test with Burt Selden, and he realizes that a Rorschach test is... (full context)
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Burt plays Charlie a recording of their first inkblot testing session, and Charlie is embarrassed to hear that... (full context)
Progress Report 10
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April 21. At work, Charlie figures out a more efficient mixing process, saving the bakery a lot of money. Mr.... (full context)
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Charlie returns to the memory he’s been trying to reconstruct. In the memory, Frank Reilly pulls... (full context)
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April 22. At the bakery, Charlie notices people ignoring and resenting him. He’s disappointed that his coworkers aren’t prouder of him.... (full context)
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April 24. Charlie convinces Professor Nemur—with Doctor Strauss’s help—that he shouldn’t have to send in everything he writes,... (full context)
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Charlie thinks back on his visit with Nemur and Strauss—it was “very upsetting,” he reports. He... (full context)
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April 26. Charlie educates himself in the university library. He’s fascinated by poetry and science, and buries himself... (full context)
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April 27. Charlie makes friends with some college students. Some of the college students raise the possibility that... (full context)
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Charlie educates himself by reading in the library. He reads mostly fiction, “feeding a hunger that... (full context)
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April 28. Charlie has a dream in which his parents argue with a schoolteacher about his future. Charlie’s... (full context)
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The next morning, Charlie remembers his dream. He also remembers being six years old, before his sister, Norma, was... (full context)
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In the memory, Charlie tells his mother that he needs help going to the bathroom, and his mother angrily... (full context)
Progress Report 11
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May 1. Charlie has noticed that Miss Kinnian—whose first name is Alice—is extremely beautiful. He takes her to... (full context)
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After the film, Charlie criticizes the film’s poor storyline and cheap ending, and Alice is impressed by Charlie’s new... (full context)
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Charlie is moved by Alice’s support, and tells her that he could never have done this... (full context)
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At the end of the night, Charlie contemplates kissing Alice, but she gets out of the cab before he can. She thinks... (full context)
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May 3. Charlie has more nightmares, and doesn’t know whether they’re real or imagined. In one nightmare, he... (full context)
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May 8. While he’s working at the store, Charlie notices that Gimpy is stealing money. Gimpy undercharges a friend for his purchases, allowing Gimpy... (full context)
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May 8. Charlie tries to decide what to do. He could report Gimpy to Mr. Donner, but Gimpy... (full context)
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May 9. Charlie continues worrying about Gimpy’s thefts. He realizes that by refusing to report Gimpy, he’s as... (full context)
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May 10. Charlie asks Professor Nemur about Gimpy, and Nemur insists that Charlie shouldn’t mention the incident to... (full context)
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Charlie goes to talk about Gimpy with Alice. Alice listens patiently to Charlie’s story, and then... (full context)
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Charlie goes on to tell Alice that she has “made me see.” Alice blushes, and Charlie,... (full context)
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Charlie begs Alice to let him see her again, “away from the lab.” Alice is reluctant,... (full context)
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May 11. Charlie resolves to follow his intuition: he’ll go back to the bakery and talk to Gimpy... (full context)
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May 15. Charlie keeps studying at the university library. He reads very quickly, and digests information about hundreds... (full context)
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May 17. Charlie has had a date with Alice. They go to a concert in Central Park. During... (full context)
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Suddenly, Charlie notices a teenager with his pants open, watching him sitting with Alice. Charlie runs off... (full context)
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In the present, Charlie hypothesizes that he hallucinated the teenager. He’s so new to the world of sexuality that... (full context)
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May 20. Charlie is fired from his job at the bakery. Mr. Donner is apologetic as he fires... (full context)
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Charlie begs Donner for a chance to convince his coworkers to let him stay, and Mr.... (full context)
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Charlie finds Fanny Birden, the one woman who refused to sign the petition. Fanny explains that... (full context)
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May 20. Upset about his dismissal from the bakery, Charlie goes to Alice’s apartment. Alice invites him inside and serves him coffee. Charlie has a... (full context)
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Charlie confesses to Alice that he’s frightened. Alice tells Charlie that Strauss and Nemur have been... (full context)
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As Alice talks to him, Charlie remembers a day when he fainted in the middle of a bakery delivery—the woman to... (full context)
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In the present, Charlie tells Alice, “hold me,” and Alice begins to kiss him. Charlie kisses her back, but... (full context)
Progress Report 12
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June 5. Two weeks have passed since Charlie has written a report for Professor Nemur. Nemur is furious—a major psychological conference in Chicago... (full context)
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Charlie sees Alice occasionally, but their relationship has been platonic ever since Alice kissed Charlie. (full context)
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Charlie continues to have vivid flashbacks to his childhood. In one, he sees his sister Norma... (full context)
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Charlie remembers something else: once, Norma told her friends that Charlie wasn’t really her brother at... (full context)
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June 6. Charlie and Alice have a fight. Charlie has gone to visit Alice in the adult learning... (full context)
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In Alice’s classroom, Charlie is moved to see his old classmates, all of whom are mentally disabled. One student,... (full context)
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Charlie begs Alice to go home with him—he needs somebody to talk to. Alice replies that... (full context)
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Charlie leaves Alice’s apartment. He realizes that he’s just as far from Alice now—with an IQ... (full context)
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June 8. Charlie spends his nights walking through the city. Once, he meets a woman in Central Park,... (full context)
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Charlie touches the woman’s hand, and tells her that he’s thinking about her. The woman asks... (full context)
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Charlie has a strange, dissociative experience, in which he grabs the woman’s shoulder and tries to... (full context)
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Charlie tries to understand what he’s just done. He realizes that he was subconsciously trying to... (full context)
Progress Report 13
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June 10. Charlie flies in a private jet to Chicago for Nemur’s conference. He’s going to meet hundreds... (full context)
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During the flight, Charlie remembers being five years old and going with Rose and Matt to Dr. Guarino—a man... (full context)
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After the “procedure,” Dr. Guarino tells Rose and Matt to continue bringing Charlie in and paying him more money. As time goes on, Matt and Rose realize that... (full context)
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Charlie realizes a strange thing: even though Dr. Guarino was a con-artist who stole money from... (full context)
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June 11. Charlie and Nemur stay in the Independence Hotel in Chicago, along with most of the young... (full context)
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Later on that night, Charlie talks with Strauss, who noticed the way Charlie interrupted Nemur. Strauss explains that Nemur is... (full context)
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Later on, Burt Selden, who’s also attending the conference, tells Charlie that Charlie is damaging Nemur’s reputation in front of Nemur’s colleagues. Burt admits that Nemur... (full context)
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Charlie realizes that Burt is right: he shouldn’t be so impatient with Nemur. Nemur is a... (full context)
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Charlie begins to describe the academic conference itself. He’s impressed by some of the researchers’ findings,... (full context)
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Nemur begins to present his findings to his colleagues, and Charlie feels a strong sense of resentment: he imagines Nemur as a carnival announcer, leading his... (full context)
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Furious with the scientists at the meeting, Charlie imagines letting Algernon out of his cage. He listens to Nemur reading embarrassing excerpts from... (full context)
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Suddenly, Charlie lets Algernon out of his tiny cage. Algernon runs through the conference, and Nemur shrieks... (full context)
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Charlie leaves the scientists’ conference. He plans to return to New York and start a new... (full context)
Progress Report 14
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June 15. News of Charlie and Algernon’s “escape” hits the newspapers. In one news story, Charlie is surprised to find... (full context)
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Charlie has a flashback in which he overhears his parents arguing about sending him to the... (full context)
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Charlie takes his money out of his bank account and uses it to check into a... (full context)
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June 16. Charlie settles into a new routine. He stays in an apartment near Times Square, spends his... (full context)
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June 19. Charlie meets his neighbor, a woman named Fay Lillman, when he accidentally locks himself out of... (full context)
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Fay lets Charlie into his apartment via the fire escape. Charlie lets Fay into his place, and Fay... (full context)
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June 20. Charlie goes to visit his father, Matt, at the barbershop where he works in the Bronx.... (full context)
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When Charlie finds Matt at the barbershop, Matt doesn’t recognize him. Charlie sits in the barber’s chair... (full context)
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Back in the present, Charlie turns to Matt and asks, “Do you recognize me?” Matt replies that he has no... (full context)
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June 21. Charlie continues to spend time teaching Algernon how to navigate through mazes. Algernon solves every maze... (full context)
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June 23. Late one night, Charlie hears a knock on his door—it’s Fay, accompanied by a dancer named Leroy. Fay invites... (full context)
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Later that night, Fay stops by Charlie’s apartment again, saying that she’s sent Leroy home after he tried to make a pass... (full context)
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The next morning, Charlie wakes up lying next to Fay, who says that he acted odd last night—they didn’t... (full context)
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June 24. Charlie goes on an “anti-intellectual binge.” He goes to trashy movies, amusement parks, and restaurants. At... (full context)
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Charlie realizes that he needs to stop worrying about himself and devote his mental energy to... (full context)
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June 25. Charlie calls Alice and asks to see her. She’s very eager to see him—she hasn’t heard... (full context)
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Alice takes Charlie to her bedroom and tries to make love to him. This is difficult for Charlie—he... (full context)
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Terrified of his own sexual anxiety, Charlie leaves Alice’s apartment. He staggers through Times Square, where he buys a bottle of gin,... (full context)
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A short while later, Fay returns to her apartment, and Charlie comes to see her. He immediately wraps himself around her. Fay is uncomfortable at first—while... (full context)
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June 29. Charlie realizes that he has limited time. He’s been busy calling various professors and researchers around... (full context)
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June 30. Charlie gives Fay the keys to his place. He enjoys spending time with her, and makes... (full context)
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July 5. Charlie finishes a piano concerto he’s been working on, and dedicates it to Fay. While Charlie... (full context)
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July 8. Charlie starts neglecting his research to go club-hopping instead. Even though he’s not living up to... (full context)
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One night, Charlie has too much to drink, and in his drunkenness he behaves like the “old Charlie.”... (full context)
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July 9. Algernon bites Fay while Fay is trying to play with him. Shortly afterwards, Charlie finds that Algernon has attacked Minnie. Charlie finds this distressing—it could mean any number of... (full context)
Progress Report 15
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July 12. Charlie goes in to visit with Nemur, Strauss, and Burt, since Charlie has told them about... (full context)
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Burt and Charlie examine Algernon, and Burt sadly tells Charlie that Algernon is losing some of his old... (full context)
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Charlie devotes all his attention to studying Algernon’s mental deterioration. He doesn’t contact Fay for fear... (full context)
Progress Report 16
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July 14. Charlie goes out to visit the Warren State Home for the mentally ill. He meets with... (full context)
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Winslow escorts Charlie through the facilities. Charlie sees mentally disabled patients taking care of each other in very... (full context)
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Charlie leaves Warren, thinking about the people who work there—people who’ve chosen to devote their adult... (full context)
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July 15. Charlie continues to work on his research with Algernon, partly because it’s very important but partly... (full context)
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July 16. Alice goes to visit Charlie in his apartment—Burt has told her about Algernon’s mental deterioration. While Alice is at Charlie’s... (full context)
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Later, Charlie goes downstairs with Alice to hail a cab for her. Alice tells Charlie that she... (full context)
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July 27. Charlie works hard studying mental deterioration. His only reality is the laboratory where he studies Algernon.... (full context)
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July 28. Charlie learns that Fay has a new boyfriend, but he isn’t hurt—in fact, he’s relieved. He... (full context)
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July 31. Charlie senses that he’s on the edge of a major breakthrough with Algernon. At the same... (full context)
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August 11. Charlie has reached a dead-end with his research. He knows that Algernon is regressing mentally, but... (full context)
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Charlie drinks more and more, despite the warnings of Doctor Strauss. He tells Strauss, loudly enough... (full context)
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Charlie goes on to chastise Nemur for his condescending attitude and egocentrism. He explains that intelligence—so... (full context)
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Charlie staggers to the men’s bathroom, and looks at his face in the mirror. He asks... (full context)
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Charlie goes to his apartment. He considers knocking on Fay’s door, but he hears a man’s... (full context)
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August 26 – Letter to Professor Nemur. The chapter consists of a letter from Charlie Gordon to Professor Nemur. Charlie explains that he’s completed research on the “Algernon-Gordon Effect,” the... (full context)
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Charlie ends his letter by thanking Professor Nemur for his patience, and apologizing for the fact... (full context)
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September 1. Charlie has discovered that he’s going to lose his intelligence very soon. He tries not to... (full context)
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September 2. Charlie is eerily calm. He’s powerless to do anything to prevent his mental deterioration. And yet... (full context)
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September 15. Professor Nemur informs Charlie that his findings have been professionally confirmed—something Charlie has already predicted will happen. Charlie tells... (full context)
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September 17. Charlie notices that he’s becoming absent-minded. He’s also upset because of the recent death of Algernon.... (full context)
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Charlie has developed an unusual friendship with Algernon, and he’s sorry to see Algernon die, not... (full context)
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September 21. Charlie plans to visit his mother tomorrow. He’s very nervous, and keeps telling himself not to... (full context)
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September 26. It’s been three days since Charlie saw his mother. He describes the visit. (full context)
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Charlie drove to Marks Street, to the house where he grew up. He’s amazed to see... (full context)
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Rose looks at Charlie with panic and fear. As Charlie moves toward her, Rose tries to run away. She... (full context)
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Charlie calls to Rose and begs her to talk to him. He explains that he’s changed—he’s... (full context)
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Charlie listens as Rose babbles about her son—a brilliant boy with a high IQ. Then, she... (full context)
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Charlie decides that he should go. Before he leaves, he gives Rose a copy of his... (full context)
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Norma recognizes Charlie right away. She explains that Professor Nemur told her about Charlie’s operation, and that she’s... (full context)
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Charlie notices that Norma owns a dog now, and this reminds him of the fight they... (full context)
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Norma insists that Charlie should stay with her family. Charlie shakes his head—he needs to travel, make some speeches,... (full context)
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Charlie thinks about Rose’s anger and hatred, and realizes that there’s no point in hating her.... (full context)
Progress Report 17
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October 3. Charlie continues to lose his intelligence. He contemplates killing himself, but realizes that this would be... (full context)
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Late at night, Charlie listens to records, irritating his neighbors. He’s stopped playing the piano, and realizes that he... (full context)
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October 4. Charlie goes to a therapy session with Doctor Strauss. As he sits on the couch, he... (full context)
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As Charlie sits on the couch, he tells Strauss about his hallucinations—he’s been seeing a version of... (full context)
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Charlie realizes that Doctor Strauss is standing over him, worried. Strauss tells Charlie that he’s been... (full context)
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October 5. Charlie visits Professor Nemur and Burt to conduct more tests. He tries to solve mazes, and... (full context)
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October 7. Charlie spends all his time alone in his room. He tries to read Milton’s Paradise Lost,... (full context)
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October 10. Charlie goes for walks late at night. One night, he can’t remember where he lives, and... (full context)
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October 11. Charlie finds Alice asleep on his couch. Alice wakes up and explains that she wants to... (full context)
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October 14. Charlie’s mental state deteriorates quickly. He spends time with Alice, but gets angry easily. He listens... (full context)
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October 17. Charlie begins to have hallucinations of his childhood self, looking out through a window. He fears... (full context)
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October 18. Charlie rereads his own paper on the Algernon-Gordon Effect and finds that he can’t understand any... (full context)
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October 19. Charlie loses some of his motor control, and he trips and drops things constantly. His only... (full context)
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October 21. Alice and Charlie have a fight. Alice claims that she can’t live with Charlie when he lives in... (full context)
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Charlie can’t stand listening to Alice. He orders her to leave immediately. He accuses Alice of... (full context)
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October 25. Charlie tries to stave off his mental decline by teaching himself new things. He goes to... (full context)
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Charlie sees Fay in his apartment building, but she avoids Charlie as much as possible—she seems... (full context)
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November 1. Charlie tries to read as much as he can, but he gets frustrated with himself for... (full context)
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November 2. Charlie spends his evenings watching a woman in another building. Every night she takes a bath,... (full context)
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November 5. Charlie spends all day sitting in his apartment. Mrs. Mooney brings him food and suggests that... (full context)
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November 9. Charlie gets headaches. His TV is broken, and the woman who takes baths at night pulls... (full context)
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November 10. Mrs. Mooney sends “a strange doctor” to see Charlie. Charlie tells the doctor that he used to be a genius. Charlie gets annoyed with... (full context)
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November 11. Alice and Doctor Strauss visit Charlie, but he refuses to let them into his apartment. Later on, Mrs. Mooney visits Charlie,... (full context)
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Novemerb 15. Charlie looks back on his old progress reports, but can’t understand most of the words. He... (full context)
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November 16. Alice visits Charlie, but Charlie refuses to see her. This makes Alice cry, and she explains that she’s... (full context)
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November 18. Charlie goes back to the bakery and asks Mr. Donner for his old job. Mr. Donner... (full context)
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At work, a new hire named Klaus mocks Charlie, daring him, “Say something smart.” Charlie tries to ignore Klaus, but Klaus grabs Charlie by... (full context)
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November 21. Charlie goes to Miss (Alice) Kinnian’s class at the adult learning center, forgetting that he’s not... (full context)
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Charlie decides that he’s going to go to the Warren Home. He doesn’t want people feeling... (full context)
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Charlie remembers a book he read when he was intelligent. He thinks about the man who... (full context)
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Charlie says goodbye to Miss Kinnian, Doctor Strauss, and everyone else. He asks Professor Nemur not... (full context)