Charlie reconfigures the machines at the bakery to increase productivity, which earns him another raise. He remembers a time—referring to himself in the third person not as “I” but as “Charlie”—when Gimpy tried to teach him to make rolls but he was unable to get it right. Charlie notices that his increased intelligence does not make his acquaintances proud of him; instead, they are uncomfortable and upset by his presence. Charlie decides to ask Alice out to a movie to celebrate his raise, though he is unsure if such an invitation is appropriate. Strauss and Nemur agree to let Charlie keep some reports private, and this makes him more comfortable writing about personal matters.
Charlie overhears Nemur and Strauss arguing about whether to present their preliminary findings at an upcoming convention in Chicago. Strauss thinks it is premature, but as the senior member of the research team, Nemur overrides Strauss’s objections. Noting the pettiness of the scientists’ argument, Charlie realizes that despite their intelligence they are flawed and fallible men.
Charlie befriends some of the college students he meets on campus, and he joyfully discusses Shakespeare with them. They also discuss God, which causes Charlie to comprehend the enormity of religion for the first time. Charlie later has a dream that triggers a flashback of his mother crying out, “He’s normal! He’s normal!” when he was six years old. He also remembers his father’s attempts to force his mother to accept her son’s retardation. Charlie remembers his mother hysterically spanking him for defecating in his pants. He finally recalls his parents’ names, Matt and Rose.
Charlie takes Alice (he now calls her “Alice” rather than “Miss Kinnian”) to the movies. He realizes his attraction to her, and their physical proximity flusters him. Charlie confesses his attraction to Alice over dinner. She replies that it would be inappropriate, for the sake of the experiment, for them to develop a romance. Charlie is upset that the books he reads do not offer solutions to the emotional turmoil he is experiencing. He has a childhood memory of discovering Norma’s underpants in the laundry hamper, crusted with menstrual blood.
Charlie is distraught to discover that Gimpy has been stealing from the bakery, undercharging customers in exchange for kickbacks. Charlie agonizes over whether he should tell Mr. Donner, and he asks both Nemur and Strauss for advice. Strauss insists that Charlie has a moral obligation to tell, but Nemur argues that he should not become involved. Nemur states that Charlie was practically an “inanimate object” before the operation and thus not accountable. This idea angers Charlie immensely, and he feels that Nemur does not understand that he was a person even in his original disabled condition. Charlie asks Alice for advice about the dilemma, and she tells him that he must feel his own decision from within.
Charlie suddenly understands that he is capable of making moral judgments himself. He decides to confront Gimpy and give him the opportunity to mend his ways before he goes to Donner with his concerns. Trapped, Gimpy grudgingly agrees, clearly disconcerted by Charlie’s inexplicable intelligence. Thinking about Alice’s role in his newfound independence, Charlie decides that he is in love with her. Meanwhile, Charlie’s intellectual pursuits advance far beyond an average level, and he now finds the college professors to be too limited and shortsighted to interest him.