"Flowers for Algernon," Vocabulary from Progress Reports 1-11

Daniel Keyes' sweet and sad story "Flowers for Algernon" depicts the quest for perfection and the double-edged sword that is too much knowledge in an engaging, relatable story about a man and his friend the mouse.

Learn these word lists for the novel: Progress Reports 1-11, Progress Reports 12-15, Progress Reports 16-17
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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. consciousness
    an alert cognitive state in which you are aware of yourself
    (I just looked up the word in the dicshunery Dr Strauss gave me. SUBCONSCIOUS, adj. Of the nature of mental operations yet not present in consciousness; as, subconscious conflict of desires) Theres more but I still dont know what it meens.
  2. errand
    a short trip taken in the performance of a necessary task
    I showed them and everyone laffed when I told them that Mr Donner said I was the best janiter and errand boy he ever had because I like my job and do it good and never come late or miss a day exept for my operashun.
  3. outstrip
    go far ahead of
    The more intelligent you become the more problems you’ll have, Charlie. Your intellectual growth is going to outstrip your emotional growth.
  4. bother
    make confused or perplexed or puzzled
    So I’ve got to come into his office twice a week now to talk about the things that bother me.
  5. upset
    cause to lose one's composure
    “No, nothings wrong. Those inkblots upset me.”
  6. ignorant
    uneducated in general; lacking knowledge or sophistication
    I was sure they had made fun of me and tricked me when I was too ignorant to know better.
  7. intently
    with strained or eager attention
    Charlie hunches over on his stool, intently watching Gimpy pick up the knife and cut off a slab of dough.
  8. unaccustomed
    not habituated to; unfamiliar with
    He is unaccustomed to this rare moment of success.
  9. interim
    the time between one event, process, or period and another
    We’ve predicted the pattern correctly so far. We’re justified in making an interim report.
  10. philosophy
    the rational investigation of existence and knowledge
    It’s exciting to hear them talking about poetry and science and philosophy—about Shakespeare and Milton; Newton and Einstein and Freud; about Plato and Hegel and Kant, and all the other names that echo like great church bells in my mind.
  11. fascinated
    having your attention fixated as though by a spell
    I don’t know who made it for him, or what became of it, but I see him standing there fascinated as the string untwists and sets the rings spinning
  12. consistent
    marked by an orderly and coherent relation of parts
    Even in the world of make-believe there have to be rules. The parts have to be consistent and belong together.
  13. insight
    clear or deep perception of a situation
    “You’re beginning to see what’s behind the surface of things. What you say about the parts having to belong together—that was a pretty good insight.”
  14. awkward
    lacking grace or skill in manner or movement or performance
    Suddenly, I had become clumsy and awkward again, and when I tried to apologize I found my tongue had become too large for my mouth.
  15. maternal
    characteristic of a mother
    I hated her as I had never hated anyone before—with her easy answers and maternal fussing.
  16. lack
    the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable
    She highlighted my awkwardness, my lack of knowledge about the right things to say and do.
  17. caress
    touch or stroke lightly in a loving or endearing manner
    She takes me into her arms, kisses and caresses me, and I want to hold her tightly but I’m afraid.
  18. avert
    turn away or aside
    I kept my eyes averted from the register as I brought out the tray of Eclairs and sorted out the cookies, buns, and cakes.
  19. animated
    having life or vigor or spirit
    He seemed animated and good-natured, but looking up he caught my eye, frowned and turned away.
  20. innocent
    free from evil or guilt
    I asked Professor Nemur about it, and he insists that I’m an innocent bystander and there’s no reason for me to become involved in what would be an unpleasant situation.
  21. mature
    develop and work out fully in one's mind
    When you mature intellectually, we may not be able to communicate. When you mature emotionally, you may not even want me.
  22. etymology
    a history of a word
    My most absorbing interests at the present time are etymologies of ancient languages, the newer works on the calculus of variations, and Hindu history.
  23. complexity
    the quality of being intricate and compounded
    People resent being shown that they don’t approach the complexities of the problem—they don’t know what exists beyond the surface ripples.
  24. tactics
    a plan for attaining a particular goal
    I asked him what he thought of the suggestion by some senators that we begin using such tactics as “blacklisting” and reinforcement of the navicert controls that had been used in World Wars I and II, against some of the smaller nations which now oppose us.
  25. adolescent
    in the state of development between puberty and maturity
    The same thing happened when I tried to discuss Chaucer with an American literature specialist, questioned an Orientalist about the Trobriand Islanders, and tried to focus on the problems of automation-caused unemployment with a social psychologist who specialized in public opinion polls on adolescent behavior.
  26. tolerate
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    Did she want me to hold her that way, or was she merely tolerating it?
  27. hallucination
    illusory perception
    Dr. Strauss feels that emotionally I’m still in that adolescent state where being close to a woman, or thinking of sex, sets off anxiety, panic, even hallucinations.
  28. deceive
    cause someone to believe an untruth
    He feels that my rapid intellectual development has deceived me into thinking I could live a normal emotional life.
  29. emphasize
    give extra weight to
    Joe nodded, turning to emphasize the point to Gimpy who had just come up behind him.
  30. inferior
    lower than a given reference point
    It had been all right as long they could laugh at me and appear clever at my expense, but now they were feeling inferior to the moron.
  31. dependable
    worthy of reliance or trust
    You used to be a good, dependable man—ordinary, not too bright maybe, but honest—and who knows what you done to yourself to get so smart all of a sudden.
  32. despise
    look down on with disdain
    Before, they had laughed at me, despising me for my ignorance and dullness; now, they hated me for my knowledge and understanding.
  33. overwhelm
    overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli
    If I could reach Alice in time—without thinking about it, before it overwhelmed me—maybe the panic wouldn’t happen.
  34. soothe
    give moral or emotional strength to
    She tried to soothe me, to tell me it didn’t matter, that there was no reason to blame myself.
  35. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    But ashamed, and no longer able to control my anguish, I began to sob.

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