Charlie does not rise above the stand-still he was in, he shoots up. Charlie knows this is the only path he can take. He needs to make up for the years he lost, and he needs to learn so many things before he’ll be where he wants to be. The path Charlie was meant to take was always straight forward, but like he said himself, he is going to have to stop at each floor before he can move on. All Charlie ever wanted was to be what he believes to be ‘smart’, and up until the middle of the book, he faces setbacks. These setbacks seem huge, but when put to scale with what is to come, the setbacks almost disappear. It is when he reaches the peak of his intelligence that he truly faces hardships.
Everything is so complex at this point of his life Charlie struggles to maintain the image of ideal ‘smartness’ he once had. He is confused and is frightened by Algernon’s deterioration, and he questions if everything was ever worth it. Charlie starts to ignore his common sense and makes rash or spontaneous decisions, like leaving the gathering in Chicago and creating the friends-with-benefits relationship with Fay. Each quick decision he makes leaves him with a lesson or moral, another floor he descends morally, and maybe even spiritually.
He starts to see pre-surgery Charlie looking in through the window, and he starts to battle what he thought he already had. Etiquette. Emotions. Spelling. Charlie is losing all of them and more. He is questioning things that he has believed his whole life. The whole “out of body” experience he had leaves him with one main question. Was Charlie afraid of seeing God, or nothing? Algernon’s death really comes as a warning to Charlie. Towards the end of the book he can’t seem to decide whether he should fight it or just give up. He tries to learn more, to at least keep some of his knowledge, but it is then he realizes there is no other way, or if there is, he won’t be able to find it.
Charlie most conforms to society at this point. Both his emotions and his intelligence are that of an average adult and Charlie truly experiences what it is like to be a, for lack of a better term, real human being. He tries to live it to the fullest, documenting everything he can because he can’t let this happen to anyone else. This period only lasts a short time, because he then starts to loose his memory for days at a time. He faces a moral crisis after breaking Alice’s heart and readers may consider this his breaking point. He is making blatant statements and hurting people’s feelings left and right, and then he come out with a bombshell. In progress report 17, Charlie states, “I passed your floor on the way up, and now I'm passing on the way down, and I don't think I'll be taking this elevator again.”
This is around the end of Charlie’s intelligence. After this, his writing gets worse as he approaches the end of the maze. Before he ends progress report 17, he writes, “Anyway I bet 1m the first dumb person in the world who ever found out somthing importent for sience. I remember I did somthing but I dont remember what. So I gess its like I did it for all the dumb pepullike me.” Charlie has been through so much and he learned countless things along the way but in the end he is in the same place as where he started from. He is back in the middle, looking out at the world through his little boxed window.