Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon Summary and Analysis of Progress Report 8


Charlie thinks that the tests and mazes that the lab makes him do are stupid. Alice Kinnian tells him to be patient but some of Charlie’s mild, good nature has gone away and he views these activities as pointless and insufferable. Charlie then eats lunch with Burt in the college cafeteria and longs to participate in conversations with the students about “art and politics and religion.” Charlie reveals that his mother was a religious woman, and that she would have him pray to “get better” from his mental disability. When Burt introduces Charlie to some of the college students, he says that Charlie is working in the lab, cleaning, instead of revealing the true and private nature of the experiment. Charlie keeps waking up hoping that this will be the day he becomes smart, but this is not the case. However, he actually becomes more aware (without his own awareness), and he continues to criticize the tests, upset that Algernon beats him in races. He learns that Algernon is also enhanced, like him, and has more hope that he will become smart soon. Charlie goes back to work in the bakery. Donner has hired a boy to replace him, and does not definitively kick Charlie out (since he promised Herman he would take care of Charlie). Charlie asks if he can be promoted, but Donner lightly turns him down.

Charlie does not want to race with Algernon anymore. Nemur and Strauss bring him a “present”: a TV-like machine which he is supposed to have turned on while he sleeps. Nemur and Strauss recognize that Charlie is beginning to challenge authority now. The machine will teach Charlie when in a drowsy state, and will also help him remember things from his childhood. Charlie keeps the TV machine on loud and so doesn’t get enough sleep, but he does actually begin to remember things. He remembers how he started going to the Beekman School at the recommendation of Fanny, his coworker. He begins therapy sessions with Dr. Strauss, where he lies down and tells the doctor anything that is on his mind.

Dr. Strauss shows Charlie how to turn the TV down so it no longer interrupts his sleep. However, on the night of March 27, his bakery coworkers invite him to a bar with them, where he drinks whiskey and becomes the butt of everyone’s jokes. The coworkers also pull a trick on him where they make him go outside to see if it is raining, and then leave him behind until a policeman picks him up and takes him home.

Charlie finally beats Algernon in a race. He remembers more things about his family and how he once wanted to be a painter. He is even able to read whole books now, and finishes Robinson Crusoe, which is the hardest book he has ever read to date. Miss Kinnian comes in and helps him with his writing, reading, and spelling.


This entry takes place from March 15-31. Charlie’s awareness increases. He begins to challenge authority after he becomes irritated with people telling him what to do. The question of authority is strongly tied into the issue concerning God and religion — this subject comes up when Charlie and Burt observe students in the college cafeteria. This same question of authority is also present when Burt tells Charlie that Nemur is afraid of people laughing at him, and so hopes the experiment will go well. Charlie, who has always only thought that people laughing must be positive affirmation, is struck by why Nemur would be against people laughing at him. After the conversation with Burt he reemphasizes how much he would like to get smart, and soon.

On returning to the bakery, coworkers like Joe Carp and Frank Reilly still laugh at Charlie, but readers realize that Donner is someone who genuinely cares about Charlie’s well-being, as Donner was Herman’s best friend.

The machine that Nemur and Strauss give to Charlie carries vague allusions to Aldous Huxley’s hypnopedia techniques in his dystopian novel Brave New World (1932). It pries into Charlie’s subconscious, feeding it new information while also retrieving old memories he is not conscious of. As a matter of fact, during therapy sessions, Strauss even explicitly tells Charlie about the conscious versus the subconscious, explaining their relationship simply as two minds that do not talk to each other yet allow people to dream. Charlie does not yet understand these concepts. He also does not fully understand the trick his coworkers played on him by leaving him outside the bar.

Charlie, after he beats Algernon in the races, expresses that he would like to be friends with Algernon (25), which foreshadows the loneliness that he is still to experience. He continues to learn from Miss Kinnian, who tells him that “spelling is not supposed to make sense” (26), which does the funny thing of qualifying much of the reports Charlie has written up until now (where there are slightly less typos, and more sustained thoughts).