Free Study Guide: Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes|
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FREE BOOK NOTES: FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON
At work another disturbing factor surfaces. Charlie realizes that Gimpy
is cheating Donner. When he works at the cash counter, he under charges
the regular customers and gets a cut from them. Charlie is horrified to
see this. He is grateful to Gimpy. But he also loves and owes an immense
debt to Mr. Donner. He is disillusioned and troubled about what to do
next. He thinks about Donner’s kindness to his employees, especially Gimpy.
At that moment a red-haired lady comes to the bakery. Charlie realizes
that, under Gimpy’s instructions, he has often delivered orders to her
house. Charlie also realizes that, she usually comes to the bakery when
Mr. Donner is not around. Charlie notices that, Gimpy undercharges her
purchases. Charlie now realizes that Gimpy has used him as a go-between
to deliver packages to such chosen customers. The fact that Gimpy has
taken advantage of his ignorance makes Charlie furious.
This is the first time Charlie has been faced with such a moral problem. He is torn between two old friends. Gimpy has three children and a clubfoot. What if he loses his job? On the other hand, why should he be allowed to cheat his employer? What about Charlie’s own role as an unwitting "accomplice?" Charlie takes his dilemma to Dr. Nemur. Nemur tells him not to get involved. He compares Charlie’s innocence in the matter to the position of a knife used in a stabbing. Charlie is furious - "But I’m not an inanimate object," he argues. "I’m a person."
Later, Strauss and Charlie discuss the matter during counseling. Strauss
feels Charlie should tell Donner. This confuses Charlie even more. He
is unable to make a decision and decides to speak to Alice about this
and therefore asks her to meet him in the same cafeteria that they had
met earlier. When he tells her everything, Alice pushes him to make his
own decision. She says he should trust himself to do so. Charlie is excited
at her advice. Charlie confesses that he loves her, but Alice does will
not accept this seriously. She tells him he is changing very fast; that
he will soon develop to a level beyond hers, and they may not have much
in common. Charlie is terribly disappointed. He insists that he needs
her for what she is, and that she should sometimes meet him outside the
Charlie decides to watch Gimpy for some more time. His doubts are confirmed
and he decides on a "compromise." He tells Gimpy about an imaginary
‘friend,’ who has discovered his colleague cheating his boss. He also
tells Gimpy that, if the colleague stops stealing then the ‘friend’ will
not report the matter to the boss. Gimpy says that the friend should mind
his own business. By now, the reader can understand that Gimpy knows who
Charlie is talking about. He tells Charlie to tell his friend that, the
colleague doesn’t have a choice. While leaving, he asks Charlie whether
the friend would be interested in a cut but Charlie refuses saying that
the friend only wants this to stop. Gimpy is livid - ‘you’ll be sorry
you stuck your nose in. I always stood up for you. I should if had my
Charlie reads books related to varied fields, like ancient languages,
the calculus of variations and ‘Hindu’ history. But he grows more disillusioned
with those around him. He no longer enjoys listening to the student’s
debates as they are, "on such an elementary level." He meets
an economist with whom he wants to discuss the use of the military blockade
as a weapon during the peacetime. However, the man says he can’t answer
as it is outside his area of specialization. Charlie is shocked. He has
similar experiences with many other ‘learned’ professors. "They would
always find excuses to slip away, afraid to reveal the narrowness of their
Charlie takes Alice to an open-air concert in Central Park. All around
them, there are couples making love. Charlie hesitantly caresses Alice,
and is angry because he feels that she is responding, only physically,
"while she kept her mind on higher things." Suddenly, he has
a feeling that a teenage boy is watching him. He imagines he is in the
boy’s place, watching Alice and himself. He asks Alice whether she can
see him but she says that she doesn’t see anything. He starts to chase
the boy but fails to catch him. Charlie feels faint and dizzy. Later,
after counseling he feels this experience was a hallucination. Strauss
tells him that emotionally, he is still an adolescent and therefore is
not ready for a serious relationship.
Charlie is sacked from his job at the bakery. Donner calls him into his office and explains - "Nothing’s wrong with your work. But something’s happened to you, and I don’t understand what it means... They’re all upset, Charlie, I got to let you go." Charlie pleads with him to let him stay, but Donner says the other employees are dead against him. Charlie asks for a chance to convince them. Donner unwillingly gives it to him. But it's no use Frank bursts out with - "you come pushing in here with your ideas and suggestions and make the rest of us all look like a bunch of dopes." While Gimpy plainly says - "you can go to hell!"
Only Fanny Berden one of the girls talks kindly to him. But she is very suspicious. "Charlie if you done anything you wasn’t supposed to - you know, like with the devil or something - maybe it ain’t too late to get out of it."
Charlie ends up feeling lonelier than ever before. He wonders - " what
would happen if they put Algernon back in the big cage with some of the
other mice. Would they turn against him?"
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