Flowers for Algernon


Progress Report 1 to 7

Progress Report 1 Summary

The progress reports which create the structure of the novel begin with notably poor spelling, grammar and punctuation. In the first “progris riport,” we are introduced to the narrator and protagonist of the novel, Charlie Gordon. He is a 32-year-old man with an IQ of 68 who works as a janitor at Donner’s Bakery in New York. In the evenings he attends a literacy class taught by Alice Kinnian at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults. (Throughout Flowers for Algernon, “retarded” is commonly used by all of the characters to describe the developmentally disabled, and this should be seen within the context of the time period in which the novel was written. It is not necessarily used as a pejorative term.) In this first report, we learn that Charlie has been selected as a potential candidate for an experimental surgical procedure to increase human intelligence. Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur are the directors of the experiment. Dr. Strauss has asked Charlie to keep this record of his thoughts and feelings throughout the experiment.

Progress Report 2 Summary

Charlie goes to Beekman College to take a Rorschach test administered by Burt Selden. Charlie is concerned about whether he will pass or fail the test, because he doesn’t understand the nature of it. Burt gives him a stack of cards with inkblots on them, and Charlie is supposed to tell him what images he sees. Charlie has a hard time coming up with any answers, which is evidence of his lack of ability to imagine. He is a little frustrated, and can only answer that all he sees is spilled ink. Charlie is afraid that he has failed the “test.”

Progress Report 3 Summary

We learn that Alice Kinnian, Charlie’s teacher, is the one who has recommended Charlie as a candidate for the experimental operation. She has told Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur that, of all of her students, Charlie seems exceptionally motivated to...

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