After his onstage humiliation and a day full of media interviews, Alex is released from the treatment facility. He has a bag of his possessions and a pocketful of money from the authorities, but little else. Alex decides to get breakfast, and makes his way to a working-class café near the Staja. In the café, Alex buys a copy of the newspaper, and he finds a propaganda article, advertising him as the poster-child of successful Reclamation Treatment. He is disgusted by the government’s boastfulness and throws the paper onto the floor.
Alex’s treatment has made him into something less than a human being, and the government’s use of the boy as a mere propaganda piece affirms this. Alex is simply a tool to serve the government’s political ends. This lack of personhood and agency that is the most arduous aspect of Alex’s new life, which illustrates that humans cannot be safely reduced to unthinking pawns.
Alex catches a bus to his family’s apartment building. Once there, he is surprised by how well-kept the area appears. He opens the door to his apartment and discovers his parents eating breakfast with a bulky man. The unfamiliar man thinks Alex is an intruder and threatens to throw him out, while Alex’s parents sit in silence. His mother then laments that Alex must have escaped, and begins to cry. Alex’s father also voices distress at seeing Alex years before his prison sentence is set to finish.
After he is released from prison, everything is foreign to Alex. He cannot control or anticipate his own emotions and desires, and now, even his own family appears to have replaced him and seems distressed to see him return.
Alex’s mother introduces the man as Joe, a lodger who has taken up residence in Alex’s old room. Joe lambasts Alex for his heartless treatment of his parents. Alex, offended that he has been replaced, opens the door to his old room and discovers that his possessions are gone—even his stereo. His father explains that per government policy, Alex’s belongings were sold in order to fund care for his elderly victim’s cats.
Alex asks his parents what they expect him to do if he cannot live at home, and they tell him that they have no choice but to keep Joe around. The lodger has already paid his rent. Joe adds that he owes it to Alex’s parents to keep them away from their abominable son. This rejection causes Alex to burst into tears. He tells his parents he wishes he were back in jail, and hopes his misfortune weighs upon their consciences. Joe comforts Alex’s crying mother while her son stumbles out of the apartment.
Social conventions, like Joe’s lease agreement, have bound Alex’s parents and made them unable to take in their own son. Alex’s wish to be back in jail is not entirely illogical: at least in the Staja, it was clear how he fit into society. Now, he is completely unmoored, and it is unclear if he has anywhere to go or anyone who may help him.