Flowers for Algernon tells the story of Charlie Gordon, a mentally challenged young man who undergoes a medical experiment designed to improve his intelligence. The experiment radically alters his intelligence, tripling his IQ, and the novel explores the impact this has on Charlie's life. Instead of being arranged in traditional chapters, the novel is divided into a series of Progress Reports, each told from Charlie's point of view. As the experiment unfolds, the Progress Reports become longer and more sophisticated, illustrating Charlie's blossoming mental aptitude and his ever-increasing struggles with the world and himself. The story covers nine months and can be divided into three distinct sections: Charlie's mental state before the operation, his meteoric rise in intelligence after the operation, and his rapid descent back to a low intellectual level.
Progress Report 1
The first progress report introduces the novel's main character, Charlie Gordon. Thirty-two-year-old Charlie is a mentally challenged bakery worker who attends remedial reading and writing night classes at Beekman School for Retarded Adults, part of Beekman University. Charlie wants to take part in an experiment designed to enhance the subject's intelligence. As part of the selection process for the experiment, Charlie is told to keep a journal of his thoughts, and this is his first entry.
The writing in the opening report reveals Charlie's low level of intelligence. The poor quality of the writing along with the poor development of ideas and lack of sophistication, all reveal that Charlie isn't very smart. The entry's brevity suggests that his attention span is limited.