Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon Summary and Analysis of Progress Report 7


The operation takes place. Charlie says it did not hurt. A nurse tells Charlie how to spell “progress” and “report” and “March.” Charlie recalls what happened when they took him into the operation: it was in a big room with windows, doctors and researchers were watching, and he was asleep during the actual procedure. Afterwards, Charlie no longer has to write progress reports every day; he writes them when he needs to and puts the date on top. The nurse who takes care of him, Hilda, tells him the procedure is wrong because the researchers are tampering with nature and God’s work. This gets Charlie scared. Immediately the next day, they have changed his nurse. Alice Kinnian comes in to visit him and encourage him, and tells him to be patient and give the procedure time for its effects to settle in.


This entry takes place across three days, from March 11-13. Charlie’s operation, on the 11th, is a public act, or at least done in front of watching researchers. In order to assuage his own fears at the time of the operation, he repeats to himself a mantra he has been coming back to over and over: “…and I was thinking mabye after the operashun Ill be smart and Ill understand all the things hes talking about” (11-12). Charlie is not just motivated—he is obsessed with becoming smart. This is partially explained as he thinks about the conversations he will be able to have with his coworkers, those he thinks are his friends: “If your smart you can have lots of frends to talk to and you never get lonley by yourself all the time” (12). Charlie must currently feel lonely, and lonely all the time. He believes his increased intelligence will bring him into human contact.

The nurse who takes care of him on March 12 brings up the first serious discussion about God and faith and how Charlie’s operation fits (or does not fit) into that whole scheme of things. This discussion continues throughout the story. Hilda condemns Nemur’s and Strauss’s work, saying that “mabey they got no rite to make me smart because if god wantid me to be smart he would have made me born that way” (13). This opens up questions of authority which plague the story, as well as the question of who wields a license in changing an individual’s life. When this is Charlie’s life, does he have license to change it? To give his life over to these scientists to change it? Charlie admits here that he does not know much about God and does not want to make Him angry. He will continue to struggle with these questions as the story — and his intelligence — progresses.

Charlie has a strong motivation not only to become smart, but also to discover his past. When Alice Kinnian comes in to visit him, he lists out all of the things he wants to do when he gets smart: to first return to the bakery, talk to them about things, perhaps even be promoted to assistant baker, and then to find his parents (and to find acceptance there with them.)

Charlie also reveals, in small details, how he is a normal 32-year-old man. He notes that the nurse who replaces Hilda, Lucille, is “pritty” (13). His ability to still see women as women even when they currently do not see him as a man is relevant to Charlie’s emotional development later in the story.