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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Progress report 7 - March 11
Charlie has recovered from the operation and resumed his report three days, after his bandages have been removed. He describes whatever he knows of the operation in minute detail. He remembers how surprised he was to see the observer’s gallery so full of doctors, who had come to see the operation. ‘I dint no it was going to be like a show!" The familiar surgeons, unfamiliar in professional gear, the frightful sensation of being strapped down, the fear of wetting his pants, are all documented here.
When he awakes, to his astonishment, it is all over. He now looks forward to being ‘smart’ like Joe Carp and Frank and Gimpy at the bakery. He longs to be part of their heated discussions about God or about "all the money the president is spending." He has always felt left out when ‘they get all excited like their gonna have a fite.’ He wants to be like them so "you never get lonley by yourself all the time." Nemur now asks Charlie to write down all that he remembers about his past. He can’t remember, and this worries him. "What do smart pepul think about or remember. Fancy things I bet. I wish I new some fancy things already."
Charlie adds daily entries to the report. He is frightened by his skinny, intense nurse, Hilda. She is against the operation, believing that Nemur and Strauss are tampering with nature. She talks about Adam and Eve, and the apple, and the fall. Charlie protests-"I dint eat no appels or do nothin sinful" but the fear of angering God remains.
The next day reveals that Hilda has been banished to the maternity ward where ‘it don’t matter if she talks too much.’ Charlie fires questions at her successor. When Miss Kinnian comes to visit him, he expresses his worry that, he is not ‘smart’ yet. Miss Kinnian tells him it will come slowly and that he’ll have to work hard. Charlie is very disapointed to hear this because he thought that he would become smart immediately after the operation. He confides in Miss Kinnian about his plans to become an assistant baker, and to find his family and show them how smart he has become, ‘so they wouldn’t send me away no more.’ She is sympathetic and tells him she has faith in him.
The reports become more detailed as the action and Charlie’s mind get more complex. The author plays a little trick on the reader, allowing Charlie to spell ‘progress report’ correctly this time, then having him explain how the nurse had spelt it for him!
The nurse Hilda’s conservative doubts help build up the tension about the coming changes in Charlie. Miss Kinnian also appears tense about the outcome. Only Charlie has a sense of anti-climax, as he had expected an instant transformation!
Once again, the hints of tragedy, like the memories of being sent away by his family, the nurse’s doubts about the experiment, are hidden among the humour of Charlie’s musings about his future, his protest about not eating ‘appels’ and so on.
Miss Kinnian is still a shadowy, kind, maternal figure in Charlie’s mind, and hasn’t emerged as a character in her own right.