Societys Mistreatment Of Mentally Disabled People English Literature Essay
After his operation, Charlie himself drifts into a condescending and disrespectful attitude toward the disabled to a certain extent. Charlie consciously wants to treat his new intellectual inferiors as he wishes others had treated him. When he sees patrons at a diner laughing at a mentally retarded busboy, he demands that the patrons recognize the boy’s humanity. However, when Charlie visits the Warren State Home, he is horrified by the dim faces of the disabled people he meets, and he is unable to muster any warmth toward them. Charlie fears the patients at Warren State because he does not want to accept that he was once like them and may soon be like them again. We may even interpret Charlie’s reaction as his own embodiment of the same fear of abnormality that has driven his mother to madness.
Thus, while Keyes condemns the act of mistreating the mentally disabled, he also displays an understanding of why this mistreatment occurs, enabling his readers to see through the eyes of someone who has experienced such ridicule firsthand. Charlie struggles with a tendency toward the same prejudice and condescension he has seen in other people. However, Charlie’s dual perspective allows him to understand that he is as human as anyone else, regardless of his level of intelligence.
Passage 1: In progress report 8, Charlie frequently gets taunted by his co-workers, Joe Carp, Gimpy, and Frank Reilly, at his workplace (the bakery). They refer to a new employee's misplacement of a birthday cake as "pulling a Charlie Gordon". Charlie laughs along since he clearly does not understand that he is root of the joke.
Passage 2: In progress report 8, Charlie is invited by Frank and Joe to go to a bar, where both of them encourage Charlie to dance like fool, after work one day. Not being able to comprehend, Charlie laughs along with them and then is later abandoned by them. Later in the same progress report, Frank and Joe take Charlie out again and force him to dance along with a girl, although Charlie realizes he is being made fun of and fleas; this is the first time Charlie experiences anger towards his "friends" from the workplace, and is confused about whether they are truly his friends or not.
Passage 3: Throughout passage 8-9, Charlie is recovering multiple memories about his childhood. One in particular was when his sister was born; his mother did not trust him to hold/look after his sister as he was mentally retarded and would not know how. He recalls from his childhood, that no one was taking his side except his father and Uncle Herman.
Passage 4: In progress report 11, Charlie is very upset to find out that Gimpy, a co-worker, has been stealing from the bakery, undercharging customers in exchange for a small payment. Charlie struggles over whether he should tell Mr. Donner and later asks Nemur and Strauss for advice; Strauss advises that Charlie is obligated to tell, but Nemur argues that he should not be involved. Nemur states that Charlie was an “inanimate object” before the operation. Charlie becomes aggravated, since Nemur did consider him as an actual person in his original disabled form.
Charlie comes to realize that Professor Nemur thinks of him as a laboratory specimen, an actual individual. Nemur talks to Charlie as if he had granted Charlie his humanity. Charlie is surprised by Nemur’s clinical lack of compassion.
Passage 5: Charlie has nightmares/memories, after his panic in Alice’s apartment, in which Norma, who got an A on a test asked her mother for a dog, that she had promised her if Norma did well in school. Charlie insisted on offering to help her take care of the dog, Norma demanded it would be hers alone. Matt declared that if Norma was going to be selfish, there would be no dog, despite Rose’s promise. Norma resentfully threatened become a “dummy” like Charlie if she could not have the dog.
Passage 6: Charlie recalls more flashbacks/memories of his mother. She had been pregnant with his sister. Charlie overheard his mother talking to herself, hoping that his sister would not turn out like Charlie. His mother starts to give up hope on him and placing her hopes in Norma instead.
Passage 10: Charlie is annoyed that this information has been withheld from him. He also grows increasingly frustrated at hearing the scientists suggest that he was subhuman prior to their operation and feels like a debased carnival sideshow act. Charlie privately toys with the idea of creating havoc in the convention by letting Algernon out of his cage.
Passage 11: A mentally disabled busboy accidentally breaks some dishes, and as he sweeps up the mess, the customers taunt him cruelly. Not comprehending that he is the target of the customers’ mockery, the busboy smiles along with their insults. Charlie is infuriated and screams to the crowd that the busboy is human and deserves respect.
Passage 12: Charlie of being ungrateful for all that the operation has given him. Charlie argues that he has little for which to be grateful, since he feels that the greatest lesson he has learned with his intelligence is that people scorn him whether he is a moron or a genius.Nemur accuses Charlie of becoming cynical and self-centered.
Passage 13: Charlie has felt bitterness toward Nemur for most of the novel, but Nemur is never able to rebut Charlie’s accusations until their argument after the cocktail party. The points Nemur makes are strong enough to alter Charlie’s perception completely. Nemur reminds Charlie that he was an entirely different person before the operation—not merely mentally retarded, but also kindhearted and warm. Though Nemur may take credit for making Charlie intelligent, he takes no credit at all for creating the new cold and unpleasant Charlie. This new, cold personality, Nemur suggests, is Charlie’s own creation. Charlie’s complaint that Nemur is appallingly arrogant and inconsiderate remains essentially valid.
Passage 14: Having regressed almost completely to his original state, Charlie returns to the Donner’s Bakery and gets his old job back. He refuses to accept money from Alice and Strauss. When a new employee named Meyer Klaus picks on Charlie and threatens to break his arm, Joe, Frank, and Gimpy come to Charlie’s rescue. They tell him that he should come to them for help if anyone ever gives him trouble. Charlie is grateful for his friends.
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