A Clockwork Orange

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A Clockwork Orange Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The day before Alex’s release has arrived. He is given his knife and his regular clothes to wear, and he is then brought to the same room in which his films were screened. However, the room has been reorganized. Alex is now before a sizeable audience, and in it he recognizes the Minister of the Interior, the Staja Governor, and the prison chaplain. Dr. Brodsky introduces Alex and announces that his changed behavior will now be demonstrated.
By being given his street clothes and his knife, Alex is symbolically restored to his pre-imprisonment, pre-treatment status. This suggests that something more fundamental to his identity has been altered by his treatment. His presence on stage before an audience suggests that he is more of a novelty than an individual—a source of entertainment, rather than an object of concerned empathy.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
Two spotlights appear on the stage, illuminating Alex and an unfamiliar, sleazy-looking man. The man begins to insult and hit Alex, while the audience guffaws. Offended, Alex reaches for his knife to fight back. As he does, however, he envisions the man being hurt, and this reminds the boy of the pain he now associates with violence. Instead of reaching for his knife, he reaches to offer the man a cigarette, but the assault continues. Alex humiliates himself further and further, hoping to get the man to stop. The confrontation only ends when Dr. Brodsky calls it off; the doctor then explains to the audience that Alex’s evil impulses now drive him towards doing good.
The audience, full of model citizens, is disturbingly amused by Alex’s humiliating hardships. Clearly, they are able to relish violence just as much as Alex was before his treatment. The events on stage reveal also that Alex has not only been rendered unable to harm others, he has also been rendered unable to defend himself from unfair harms. Clearly, being a functional member of society requires some degree of restraint, which Alex lacked. But that ability to function also requires a baseline of free will, which Alex now lacks.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
Brodsky asks if the audience has any questions, and the prison chaplain speaks up. The chaplain protests that Alex is no longer able to make ethical choices. Brodsky responds that the therapy’s concerns are pragmatic, not moral. The crowd begins to argue amongst itself, and Alex speaks out to ask if his agency matters. An audience member stands up and tells Alex that he elected to receive the treatment; thus all of its consequences are a result of his own choice. The chaplain again denounces this sentiment. The Governor appears displeased with the chaplain’s protests.
Finally, the chaplain has chosen to disregard his social constraints and speak out against the moral problems with Reclamation Therapy. This is one of very few instances in the book where a character inconveniences himself to take a stance on principle. It is clear that the audience has no sympathy for Alex: he is held entirely responsible for his individual choices, even though he had no way of knowing the true nature of the situation he had gotten himself into.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
The audience discusses the issue further, and the word “love” is introduced to the debate. This prompts Dr. Brodsky to bring a beautiful young woman onto the stage. Upon seeing her, Alex is overcome with an urge to have sex with her, but this brings back his pains. He bows before her and begins to offer lofty promises of protection and devotion. His pain ceases. The woman leaves the stage, and Alex feels bizarre at having performed an act to avoid pain. He also notices members of the crowd staring lecherously at the girl. To conclude the presentation, Dr. Brodsky claims that Alex has been made into a “true Christian” by the treatment.
While Alex here has been engineered to be capable only of flowery, publicly-acceptable proclamations of love, love consists of more than flashy displays. Alex’s therapy has rendered him unable to think of the physical act of love without being nauseated. He has thus been stripped of an essential human function—a function that many members of the audience evidently still enjoy—and turned into a flat, sanitized, and unrealistic model of behavior, a kind of robot programmed to act by the tenets of Christianity.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
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