Free Study Guide: Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes|
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FREE PLOT SUMMARY / SYNOPSIS: FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON
Charlie learns about commas from Miss Kinnian who says people could
lose a lot of money if a comma is in the wrong place. Charlie is completely
confused by this, but enthusiastically uses them throughout his sentences!
Miss Kinnian explains different kinds of punctuation, but Charlie mixes
them all up! He feels "she is a genius" to understand it all
and also have answers for all his questions. Charlie wishes he could be
Charlie wakes up in the middle of the night and reads through a grammar
book. He now understands all that Miss Kinnian had been trying to explain.
Looking over his own old progress reports, he is horrified at his chaotic
spelling and punctuation. Miss Kinnian however doesnít let him change
them. She says that these will show what progress heís made. Charlie visits
Algernon and plays with him. They no longer compete.
Charlie is depressed. Itís the first time heís stayed away from work on purpose. It all started with a party with his friends at the bakery. He had avoided whisky but the coke they gave him tasted "funny." Then Joe had egged on a girl, Ellen, to dance with Charlie and "give him a good time." Every one else had watched them dance and someone had made Charlie trip several times. In the beginning, Charlie too had laughed with them but eventually, he no longer found it funny. Ellen then offered him an apple, which he discovered was a fake one. Joe has said, "I ainít laughed so much since we sent him around the corner to see if it was raining that night we ditched him at Halloranís." Charlie now realizes that they had got rid of him deliberately.
This unpleasant incident sets off old memory - of kids in his childhood
neighborhood allowing him to play hide and seek, with him as IT. By the
time he opened his eyes, they all would have vanished and then he would
go back home, alone. At last Charlie understands that Joe, Frank and the
others only wanted him around to make fun of him. He also understands
what they meant by "to pull a Charlie Gordon." Charlie runs
home, heart broken. That night he has a wet dream about the experience
Charlie misses work again because he is depressed about his "friends," yet he feels "itís a good thing about finding out how everybody laughs at me." Heís happy about his reading, and about the fact that he is able to remember most things, but the disturbing aspect is the past, which keeps intruding - "it was like a big hole opened up in the walls of my mind and I can just walk through."
He sees himself as another person - a young, skinny, scared man looking
for Donnerís Bakery and watching scenes on the street nearby. He hears
boys in the neighborhood calling him "Charlie! Charlie! ...fat head
barley!" He remembers how they had called him into a dark alley and
urinated all over him, how Uncle Hermann had run after them, in fury,
with a hammer in his hand. Then he remembers a scene in the bakery, when
tired after his work he had been dozing until someone had kicked his legs
out from under him.
Charlie tells Strauss all that he remembers. Strauss tells him that
it is important for him to learn about himself so that he can understand
his problems. Strauss laughs when Charlie says he does not have any problems.
Strauss tells Charlie that his problems will multiply with his increasing
intelligence, especially as his intellectual growth will outstrip his
emotional growth. He assures Charlie that he will always give him help
when he needs it. Charlie reports the wet dream and feels queasy about
it. He thinks the cause of the queasiness may be that, "I always
thought it was dirty and lead to talk about it." Strauss reassures
him, saying it is a natural thing that happens to boys. He thinks Charlie
"is still a boy about women." All these new ideas are disturbing,
but Charlie resolves "to find out all about my life."
Charlie reads history, geography and arithmetic and begins to learn foreign
languages. He is to start college subjects in a couple of weeks, and Strauss
instructs him not to read Psychology, as it will divert him from his own
experiences and into thinking about psychological theories. Charlie reads
a lot of American literature and is impressed.
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. 09 May 2017