A Clockwork Orange

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

A Clockwork Orange Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alex resumes the story two years after Part 1 concluded. He is serving a fourteen-year sentence in the Staja [state jail], and is now known as 6655321 instead of Alex. Alex catalogs the abuses of imprisonment, which include violence and unwanted sexual advances. Alex recalls when his parents visited one year ago to tell him that Georgie has been killed by a homeowner in a botched break-in. The killer was acquitted on Self Defense grounds. Given Georgie’s mutinous behavior, Alex thinks this episode “all seemed right and proper and like Fate.”
Though Alex complains of the wrongs he has suffered in prison, he does not seem to dwell long on whether or not he deserves the punishment he receives. It is interesting, then, that he is so quick to evaluate Georgie’s death as an appropriate outcome of justice. This style of thinking yet again highlights Alex’s self-centered immorality. He is indignant to have to suffer the consequences of his own crimes, but is all to happy to see Georgie punished for his.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
It is Sunday, and Alex is assisting with a fire-and-brimstone sermon conducted by the prison “charlie.” Someone makes a disrespectful noise from the back of the room, and a prisoner is hauled off by guards while he complains that he didn’t make the noise.
The arbitrary disciplining of the prisoner clashes with the chaplain’s message of personal accountability. Throughout the book, true moral responsibility is often pitted against rule-following, and it is no coincidence that the chaplain’s message of moral duty conflicts with the arbitrary punishments and rewards that his institutional environment provides.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
The chaplain has taken a liking to Alex, as Alex has devoted himself to studying the bible. This is a ruse to listen to classical music, which plays during Alex’s study sessions. After the sermon is finished, the chaplain asks Alex to update him on prison rumors. Alex knows that the chaplain reports this information to the Governor, and Alex mixes true stories with made-up ones. After regaling the chaplain with a story of a bogus drug-smuggling scheme, Alex asks if the chaplain knows anything about a rumored alternative to imprisonment, which ends imprisonment immediately and ensures against recidivism. The chaplain explains that this is an untested procedure called Ludovico’s Technique. The chaplain is skeptical of the procedure; he doubts that it is holy to behave well simply because one is compelled to do so.
Alex’s admirable pursuit of classical music may truly enrich him, as it leads him, albeit disingenuously, to take on another admirable pursuit: religious enlightenment. This interaction with the chaplain is particularly important, as it introduces a main plot point of the novel. The ethical question that the chaplain ponders—is it moral to behave well when one has no choice but to do so?—is a central problem with Ludovico’s treatment, and an issue that the text poses aggressively. It can also be seen as a moral issue within society, in which one could argue that people act morally because of laws and fear of punishment rather than from their own inherent desires.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Art and Humanity Theme Icon
Once his work with the chaplain is finished, Alex is escorted back to his cell. His cellmates are reprehensible criminals, but Alex is relieved that none of them are interested in molesting him. After dinner, the cellmates all sit and smoke together, when a new prisoner is thrust into the already-full cell. This new prisoner yells and complains about how his rights are being abused until a warder is sent to quiet him down.
Alex seems to have settled into as comfortable a routine at the Staja as he could possibly have cultivated. Still, he is eager to restore his freedom. His recent discussion with the chaplain foreshadows an important decision he will have to make: is his freedom to be returned to society worth sacrificing another aspect of his freedom—his free will?
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
Get the entire A Clockwork Orange LitChart as a printable PDF.
A clockwork orange.pdf.medium