Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon Summary and Analysis of Progress Report 15


Charlie has gotten in touch, by himself, with the Welberg Foundation, to gain permission to perform an independent study with this project. He reviews the lab with the researchers. As a result, Charlie is given freedom to use all of the facilities and equipment in the lab to perform his research, although he knows that Nemur cannot be pleased. He asks what Nemur’s plans were for him after the experiment, if the experiment failed to sustain permanent intelligence in him. The plan was to put Charlie in the Warren State Home and Training School (where Charlie was supposed to be institutionalized, but his Uncle Herman kept him from going). Charlie decides to visit Warren and see what it is like.


This entry takes place on July 12. It is a very short Progress Report. Although Charlie knows that Nemur and Strauss will be upset with him contacting the Welberg Foundation directly, and will feel cornered because of it, Charlie now no longer really cares about what people think of him. He says, “Time was the barrier” (166), instead of his intelligence level (whether high or low). After Charlie finds out that there were plans to send him to Warren State Home if the experiment failed, he decides to go see it. Nemur is obviously unhappy, but in response to this, and in explanation of why he needs to see it, Charlie delivers his most eloquent discussion of his own situation yet, tying together the different thematic concepts that have been floating around in the story and in his head: “he [Nemur] doesn’t realize that find out who I really am – the meaning of my total existence – involves knowing the possibilities of my future as well as my past, where I’m going as well as where I’ve been. Although we know the end of the maze holds death (and it is something I have not always known – not long ago the adolescent in me thought death could only happen to other people), I see now that the path I choose through that maze makes me what I am. I am not only a thing, but also a way of being – one of many ways – and knowing the paths I have followed and the ones left to take will help me understand what I am becoming” (169). In addition to becoming intelligent, Charlie also demonstrates an emotional and mental maturity, especially in his acceptance of death and of ends. He realizes fully the importance of the process of passing through life, and also reconciles the importance of passages with the passage of time through life. He inadvertently harkens back to his past discussion of the future, in which he talks about the future as something that is just as important as the past and constructed off of the past.