A Clockwork Orange

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A Clockwork Orange Part 3, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alex wakes up in his host’s home feeling safe and well-rested. He decides to look for a copy of A Clockwork Orange so he can figure out the man’s name. Upon reading a copy, Alex discovers the man is named F. Alexander. The book itself is an impassioned polemic against the government’s attempts to mechanize citizens, and Alex does not like the style in which it is written. He wonders if F. Alexander has been driven mad by his wife’s death.
The two characters’ similar names set them off as foils to one another. Their evolutions as characters are nearly opposites: by behaving barbarically, Alex ends up being subjected to Reclamation Treatment and becoming a more obedient citizen. In turn, by being subjected to barbarism, F. Alexander devotes himself to noble idealism and becomes a dissenter against the violence perpetrated by society. In the eyes of the law, Alex may be a far more upstanding citizen at this stage—even though F. Alexander is unambiguously a more noble human being.
Themes
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Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
Alex comes downstairs for breakfast, and F. Alexander explains that he has been up for hours making phone calls. Alex remarks that he thought the man didn’t have a phone in his house, and F. Alexander suddenly perks up and asks what reason Alex would have to think that. Realizing that he accidentally referenced something F. Alexander’s wife said the night she was raped, Alex backpedals.F. Alexander tells Alex that his tragic experience with Reclamation Treatment can help the incumbent government lose the upcoming election. Its attempts to control its citizens border on totalitarianism, the author complains. F. Alexander explains that he has written an article under Alex’s name, decrying Reclamation Treatment. He gives it to Alex to read, and though Alex finds the writing “weepy,” he compliments the piece in typical nadsat slang. This vocabulary again raises F. Alexander’s hackles—the author suspiciously asks what Alex’s slang means, and Alex explains that it is common to youths.
The visceral reaction that Alex’s speech provokes in F. Alexander illustrates the profound power of language. To the author, Alex’s vocabulary is deeply tied to his identity. Similarly, the author’s diction is what leads Alex to believe he has been driven mad by his past trauma. In both cases, language is at the center of the way individuals characterize themselves and others. Words are not a neutral medium for content—as this encounter demonstrates, words themselves are charged with meaning, memory, and emotion.
Themes
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Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Three of F. Alexander’s political allies come to the house to meet Alex. Alex greets them in typical nadsat fashion, and F. Alexander’s suspicions are raised again—the author remarks that he and Alex have certainly met before. The three confederates seem excited to use Alex to achieve their goals, but they answer evasively when Alex asks how he himself will benefit by helping the men. Alex protests that he wants to be returned to his pre-therapy state, and complains that he is not a “dim” creature who can be used.
Although Alex has certainly received better treatment from these men than he has from the various branches of government, he is still clearly seen as more of a piece of clockwork than a true human being. These activists are less preoccupied with practicing their message of liberty than they are with exploiting Alex to serve their goals.
Themes
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Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
F. Alexander fixates on the word “dim” and recalls that it sounds like a familiar name. Alex replies by asking “What do you know about Dim?” The boy then notices that F. Alexander has acquired a strange look in his eyes, and Alex moves to gather his belongings and leave. Meanwhile, a wild-eyed F. Alexander remarks that he “could almost believe” that Alex was the one who raped his wife years ago, and says that he’d tear the boy apart if it were true. The author’s cohorts comfort him and prevent Alex from leaving. While F. Alexander tries to recall why he recognizes the word “Dim,” Alex gets dressed and is driven to an apartment building by the author’s three collaborators. The three men drop Alex off in a comfortable apartment that will be his new home. Before leaving, one of the men asks Alex if he really was the one responsible for the incident that ruined F. Alexander’s life. Alex responds that he has paid for his crimes, and for those of his droogs.
Everyone in this scene is motivated by self-interest rather than genuine concern for others. F. Alexander works himself into a fury that contradicts his noble rhetoric, Alex worries about escaping alive rather than reconciling with the man he has wronged, and F. Alexander’s cohorts focus not on consoling their comrade but on spiriting Alex away so that he can be used as a political tool. These dysfunctional interrelationships demonstrate that when opportunities for personal gain are on the line, conventional social obligations—including general respect for others—tend to collapse.
Themes
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Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
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Once the men leave him, Alex goes to sleep. When he wakes up, he hears music playing—it is a familiar symphony that he has not heard in years. Initially, he is delighted and interested by the music, but he soon begins to feel overwhelmed by sickness. He pounds on the walls until his hands are bloody, begging for the music to stop, but it continues. After staggering around his apartment in agony, Alex finally decides to kill himself. He opens the window and jumps into the bustling street below.
Though it is never stated outright, it is implied that this music is a scheme by F. Alexander’s cohorts to drive Alex to suicide for political gains, which illustrates that even those with good intentions are not above resorting to violent methods (even if they commit that violence in indirect ways) to achieve them. Furthermore, Alex’s suicide attempt illustrates that his affinity for the arts was so deeply tied to his humanity that he no longer thinks it worthwhile to continue existing as a human being once this affinity has been destroyed.
Themes
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Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Art and Humanity Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon