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Free Study Guide-Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

Project Report 15

Summary

July 12

Charlie and Algernon go back to the Beckman labs. Nemur is cold and formal. He resents the fact that the Wellberg Foundation has agreed to Charlie working there. He now depends on Charlie to provide explanations for the changes in Algernon’s behavior. If Charlie fails, it will negate his own work. Either way, his ‘creation’ has become his equal.

Burt eagerly takes Algernon to the lab. He sadly observes that the mouse is ‘solving problems on a much more primitive level than I would have expected.’ Algernon can no longer figure out sequences, he depends on trial and error.

Burt introduces Charlie to all the features of the lab, except one last unit. On inquiry, Burt tells him that it contains the deep freeze and incinerator, where dead specimens are disposed off. Charlie is chilled to hear it. Charlie pleads with Burt that if Algernon dies, he should be handed over to him and Burt agrees. Drawing a connection, Charlie asks, what plans have been made for him if the experiment on him fails. Nemur is startled but explains plainly that Charlie would be committed to the Warren State Home. Charlie is furious. He demands to know why this will be done, when before the operation he was considered fit to run his own life and work at the bakery. Nemur explains that they had to visualize all the possibilities and that he might lapse into a worse condition than his earlier state.


For Charlie, the Warren State Home is equivalent to the "deep freeze." He jokes bitterly that at least they won’t consign him to the incinerator! He asks to visit the Warren Home and see its arrangements for himself, while he can still understand them. Nemur is upset. But, Charlie feels it is essential for him to know, not only what his past was, but also what his future holds, to find out "the meaning of my total existence." After this, he puts himself through an intensive course of psychology tests of every school and approach. Fay wants to visit the lab but he forbids her from doing so.

Notes

A common motif in life and literature is the process of self- realization. This is difficult even for ordinary people. For Charlie with his extraordinary history, it is far more complex. He finds it difficult to take any action, interact closely with any person, because of his wildly contrasting "selves." Is he Charlie Gordon the "moron," easily pleased and controlled by others? Or is he Charlie Gordon, the genius-in-the making? How long can he be the latter? Is there any meaning to his life? Can he give it some meaning? These are the questions that haunt Charlie.

In this chapter, the readers see a definite deterioration in Algernon’s capacities, and this signals the beginning of the end for Charlie. Just when he has begun to see some direction in his life, it is to be snatched away. The anguish this causes is the subject matter of this and the following chapters.

From now on Charlie has to race against time to do something of value. Hence, his desperate efforts to study, to master psychology in a short time and try to defeat the errors made in his own and Algernon’s case. The researchers have been scrupulous about his future, but for them it is only one more experiment. For him it is his very existence!

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