July 12. Charlie goes in to visit with Nemur, Strauss, and Burt, since Charlie has told them about Algernon’s deteriorating condition. Nemur and his academic Foundation have agreed to let Charlie pursue his own independent research into Algernon’s mental health. Charlie is grateful, though he can tell that Nemur is opposed to giving Charlie, his former patient, so much freedom.
It would seem that Charlie and Professor Nemur have come to a grudging respect for each other. Nemur recognizes that Charlie is smarter than he is, and allows him to conduct research; similarly, Charlie recognizes that Nemur is well-connected in the academic world, and relies upon him to pursue his research.
Burt and Charlie examine Algernon, and Burt sadly tells Charlie that Algernon is losing some of his old intelligence. Frustrated, Charlie confronts Nemur, asking what’ll happen if he (Charlie) also loses his new intelligence. Reluctantly, Nemur tells Charlie that there’s a possibility that Charlie will be even less intelligent than he was before the operation. He probably won’t be able to return to his old job at the bakery, since the situation will be too odd and disturbing for his coworkers. Instead, Nemur’s Foundation has arranged to send Charlie to the Warren State Home and Training School. Charlie is extremely upset by this news—he’s been kept out of the State Home for his entire adult life, thanks to Mr. Donner’s kindness.
In this terrifying scene, Charlie confronts his destiny: to lose his intelligence and be sent away to a home for mentally disabled patients. Previously, Charlie was motivated by a desire to rise to the top of the heap. Now that he’s at the top, Charlie’s principle motivation is his fear of falling back to his former position—indeed, falling back to below his former position. Unfortunately, Since becoming a genius, Charlie has burned many bridges. He’s been so arrogantly confident in his ability to take care of himself that he hasn’t arranged a “backup plan” in case he loses his newfound intelligence.
Charlie devotes all his attention to studying Algernon’s mental deterioration. He doesn’t contact Fay for fear that Fay would run into Alice. He also plans to visit the Warren State Home—the place where he might be spending the rest of his life.
Charlie’s struggle to maintain his brilliance takes on epic proportions in this passage: he devotes every ounce of his genius to saving himself from intellectual death. And yet a part of Charlie seems to know that all his efforts will be in vain—he’s preparing himself to be sent to the Warren State Home.