A Clockwork Orange

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A Clockwork Orange Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alex’s body is damaged extensively from his fall, and while this causes him extraordinary pain, it does not kill him. He remains conscious long enough after hitting ground to notice that few of the shocked pedestrians seem to be genuinely interested in helping him. His next memory is of regaining consciousness in a hospital, wrapped in bandages. He spots an attractive nurse next to him and tries to proposition her bawdily, but his words only come out as groans. The nurse is surprised to see that Alex has regained consciousness.
Alex’s last memory before waking up in the hospital is of complete abandonment by society. Ultimately, this abandonment—this failure to feel like and be treated like a human being—is likely what causes him to attempt suicide. This supports F. Alexander’s impassioned assertion that “a man who cannot choose ceases to be a man.”
Themes
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Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Several people come to visit Alex, including the prison chaplain, who reveals that he has left the penal system to preach on his own. F. Alexander’s cohorts also arrive to triumphantly tell Alex that his actions have ruined the government’s chance of reelection. After these men leave, Alex loses consciousness again. He dreams about delighting in violence, rape, and theft, all without feeling any of the usual pain he has been conditioned to feel.
Though Alex’s guests deliver inspiring messages of morals triumphing over social pressures, his dreams illustrate a worrying trend: despite the best efforts of the penal system, he has retained all of his predispositions to barbarism.
Themes
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Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
After he wakes up from these dreams, Alex is able to speak more clearly. His parents show up to visit him, and he speaks to them indignantly. Alex’s father apologizes for turning him away and tells his son that he is free to move back in, as Joe the lodger has left town after being harassed and beaten by policemen. Alex’s mother weeps, and Alex quiets her with a nasty threat. Alex’s father reprimands Alex for snapping at his mother, but Alex tells him that if he is to move back in, things will have to be different—Alex will be the “boss.” His father quickly capitulates and tells Alex he can return on any terms he wishes.
Things seem to be returning to the status quo, for better and for worse. Once again, Alex profits off of injustice: he is only able to move back into his house because Joe has been wronged by the police. He also seems to be able to again use bullying and manipulation to his advantage. Indeed, with Alex’s return to society comes a return of many of his least desirable attributes, along with a restoration of his comfort and safety.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
Alex’s parents leave. A nurse tells Alex that he has been hospitalized for a week after suffering significant blood loss from his fall. Alex asks her if his brain has been tampered with at all, and the nurse assures him that every action has been taken for his benefit. A few days later, two doctors show Alex pictures and ask questions to test his reactions. When presented with a picture of a bird’s nest, Alex expresses a desire to destroy all the eggs inside. When shown a picture of a young woman, Alex expresses a desire to rape her violently. The doctors seem pleased by Alex’s reactions, and tell him that he has been “cured.”
Because the Ludovico’s solution was in his blood, Alex has been cured of his aversions to violence via a blood transplant. The doctors’ enjoyment of Alex’s reprehensible reactions to the pictures illustrates that society is by no means uniform in the way it enforces morals. While Alex’s violent impulses got him into trouble years earlier and were deemed deeply unhealthy, they are now being lauded by the establishment as a sign of his return to good health.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon
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More time passes, and Alex is notified that he will receive an important visitor. That afternoon, the Minister of the Interior shows up in Alex’s room, accompanied by a press corps. The Minister speaks conciliatorily with Alex, and explains that the real people who sought to harm Alex were the ones like F. Alexander, who tried to use the boy as a political tool. The Minister goes on to explain that F. Alexander has been imprisoned after making threats on Alex’s life. The author discovered that Alex was in fact responsible for the rape and murder of his wife. The Minister then assures Alex that the government will take good care of him once he is discharged from the hospital, and thanks Alex for his help. This thank-you is punctuated by a staged photo op of Alex shaking the Minister’s hand. Finally, the Minister presents Alex with a new stereo, and Alex exults in Beethoven’s Ninth. Someone asks him to sign a document, and he does so absentmindedly. As he enjoys the music and fantasizes about hurting people with his knife, Alex reflects that he has indeed been cured.
The fate of F. Alexander underscores the precarious situation of the idealist. The author and activist is among the most noble characters in the book, committed both in theory and in practice to treating others with compassion. However, the uniform application of his morals is too much to bear in this particular case, and he succumbs to the same sadistic impulses that nearly every other character in the book exhibits at one point or another. By juxtaposing the failure of the well-intentioned F. Alexander with the triumph of the insincere Minister of the Interior, Burgess illustrates the way in which society often rewards self-interested people like Alex and the Minister, who simply pay lip-service to its norms; rather than to nobler spirits like F. Alexander. At the same time, the novel asserts that violent feelings and urges are present in everyone, even the most noble.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Sadism and Society Theme Icon
Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Art and Humanity Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon