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Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9 
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 Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9

Please discuss Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9 here.



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
I like how the author offers clues that Charlie Gordon is improving, but shows his frustration at a perceived lack of progress. He does this partly in reference to the mouse. Early in the book Charlie marvels at how smart the mouse is. As he starts to improve he hates the mouse, "He always beets me." p.18 Then he states "I never new before that I was dumber than a mouse." p. 20 Charlie learns Algernon is a "speshul mouse. That makes it diffrint. I coud probaly do that amazed faster then a reglar mouse." p. 21 And finally on "March 29 - I beet Algernon." p. 31

Charlie talks about his friends at work quite a bit, but another hint of progress is he unintentionally drops clues that his "friends" are actually ridiculing him. I expect Charlie will soon recognize that fully. Sad.



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Yeah, a lot of people in Charlie's life are real assholes!



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
In Chapter 7 the operation is over, and Charlie has a bandaged head for a few days. His nurse is not impressed. She raises the moral problem of the story of Adam and Eve as evidence for why God does not want doctors to play God by manipulating people’s brains. She gets moved to another ward for talking too much.

Charlie wonders why it takes time to get smart, but he can already ask questions about how to spell.


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
This theme of "don't play God" gets applied hypocritically.

Why is it okay to do open heart surgery but a hypothetical operation making people smarter is "playing God"?

Why is it okay to build wind turbines for renewable energy but adding iron to the sea to protect salmon is "playing God"?

Often these type of debates have a hidden agenda.


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
I just came back to the forum after having read the book, so I'll attempt not to spoil anything.

Charlie's frustration at how slow his perceived progress is moving shows a new level of intelligence in and of itself I feel. In grade school, teachers note this as a checkpoint in a student's progress, where they are at the very least concerned about how they are doing (I have several family members in the education field who've described this). The change in grammar is immediately seen, as well as the picking up of larger and larger words.

The people at the bakery were terrible to him, but that's just the tip of the iceberg compared to what others do and have done to Charlie later on (I won't spoil anything for you yet). It's hard to believe it, but my dad says that at the time that this book was published, the treatment of the mentally impaired was abysmal at best. This book is pretty tame compared to some of the stories my dad told me from his growing up.


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Movie Nerd wrote:
Charlie's frustration at how slow his perceived progress is moving shows a new level of intelligence in and of itself I feel. In grade school, teachers note this as a checkpoint in a student's progress, where they are at the very least concerned about how they are doing (I have several family members in the education field who've described this). The change in grammar is immediately seen, as well as the picking up of larger and larger words.
This is a key point about how Keyes constructs the book, carefully and gradually introducing a higher level of intelligence in how Charlie writes. The question he asks about how Progress is spelt is a good example, as this simply did not occur to him in his moronic state.
Movie Nerd wrote:
The people at the bakery were terrible to him, but that's just the tip of the iceberg compared to what others do and have done to Charlie later on (I won't spoil anything for you yet). It's hard to believe it, but my dad says that at the time that this book was published, the treatment of the mentally impaired was abysmal at best. This book is pretty tame compared to some of the stories my dad told me from his growing up.
Yes, that is true that treatment of people with disabilities was actually far worse than this book illustrates. Asylums were an ‘out of sight out of mind’ way to deal with people who could not function independently in the days before modern medical treatment.

It is hard for us to imagine a culture such as Nazi Germany, within living memory, when eugenic theory led to mass extermination of people who were different, including the disabled. The repugnance today towards the Nazi actions masks how similar attitudes used to be more widespread.


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
The book was brilliant for highlighting this issue.


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
:lol: Je Suis Charlie :-D (and Je Suis the guys at the bakery too)

Image



Jesu is Charlie



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Algernon Chapter 8

Charlie is irritated that he is not getting smart. He still spells fonetikly, but this chapter begins to weave in examples of improvement. He starts to question authority, he requests more complex work at the bakery, he starts to remember his dreams, he learns to use a dictionary, and he beats Algernon the mouse in a maze race, but he still displays a moronic literalism. Interestingly, he learns about the distinction between conscious and subconscious thought, which is a highly complex psychological concept.

The relationship with the bakery is interesting. The owner had promised him a job for life, and is compassionate. Charlie regards the others as friends, but they tease him without mercy. They get him drunk and get him to dance on a table with a lampshade on his head, and then ask him to go around the corner to see if it is raining before running out on him.


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Chapter 9 starts with the bakery staff thinking they can play an April Fools joke on Charlie by getting him to work the dough mixer, which is a job that requires training that Charlie has not had. They don’t know that Charlie’s operation has made him smarter, and they expect he will break the machine. But Charlie has been watching how dough is made, and he does it faster than the previous occupant of the job, as the first sign of his growing intelligence. Everyone is astounded and worried, because morons never improve or learn. The boss says he wants Charlie to advance, which is a new concept to Charlie, who says he is happy cleaning toilets and garbage. But another worker who planned the joke tells Charlie to jump in the lake. They have got used to having a resident fool who can be the butt of jokes, and they are not happy to see him advance.

Next he reads Robinson Crusoe and is perplexed about why the story ends. Perplexity about complex questions is a key mark of brains.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Robert Tulip wrote:
Charlie regards the others as friends, but they tease him without mercy. They get him drunk and get him to dance on a table with a lampshade on his head, and then ask him to go around the corner to see if it is raining before running out on him.


yeah, i found it interesting how this aspect contrasts later with bakery crew attitudes as Charlie regresses.



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
As Charlie gradually gets smarter, his memory, perceptiveness, understanding and logical capacity all steadily improve. What I find really intriguing about this book is the depiction of moronic behaviour, and how Charlie’s example helps us to analyse psychological development and capacity.

The founder of Apple Computing, Steve Jobs, was notorious for his intolerance of morons. He wanted to design equipment that even a moron could use, but castigated anyone working for him who did not meet his very high standards. This sort of intense judgemental competitiveness has no time for morons, and is essential in the high performance business world. Steve Jobs regarded the general public as ‘bozos’, to use his favourite term, but still wanted to make his equipment, if not idiot-proof, then at least moron-proof.

Use of idiot, imbecile and moron is based on the tradition of asylums of classifying by mental age of the retarded adult: idiots are those who reach the ability of a 6 year old or less, imbeciles up to 8, and morons towards 12. People who reach a mental age of 16 may be able to function independently, but will struggle. Because of their popular usage as insults, these words have been dropped by psychiatry.

The word ‘asylum’ is a further example of how language gets influenced by usage. A term that began from the need for incapable people to be protected, as per current usage for refugees, came in popular use to be equated to terms of denigration such as loony bin, as in the English institution at Bedlam (not to be confused with the birth town of Our Lord and Saviour) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethlem_Royal_Hospital .

I consider that there are widespread moronic syndromes in politics and religion. It is moronic to insist on the truth of an ideological claim that has no support from evidence, and idiotic to insist something is true when there is clear scientific proof it is false. So Young Earth Creationism is an example of idiotic belief, while belief in the historic reliability of the Gospels is moronic.

In politics, climate denial is idiotic, even though this purported belief is primarily a cover for economic interests. The belief that global agreement could stabilise the climate strikes me as moronic, although my opinion on this is not widely shared. My view is based on the blatant clash between the global agreement push and the realities of politics and business, and on how the emission reduction focus has raised barriers to efforts to research and develop technological solutions. This is obviously an inflammatory opinion of mine, since calling people moronic is deeply insulting. But when ideology gets in the way of evidence, what other term is appropriate?


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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
I joined too late for this discussion, but I'm inspired to read this book again. I read it years ago and loved both it and the film version. Great choice.



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Post Re: Flowers for Algernon: PROGRESS REPORT 7 MARCH 11 and PROGRESS REPORT 8 and 9
Its not too late. The discussion period stretches over several months. There have only been comments so far on the first half of the book. Just jot down what ever comes to mind and who knows, people may respond like a raw shock.


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