In any society, individuals forfeit some of their autonomy in exchange for protection against a world that is too dangerous to navigate alone. The universe of A Clockwork Orange is no exception. Throughout the book, Alex is forced to reconcile his arrogant individualism with his inability to live completely self-sufficiently. Droogs band together to protect themselves from other gangs, and Alex's selfish individualism alienates his own droogs to catastrophic results. Prisoners band together to protect themselves, and when Alex is singled out from his cellmates he is forced to undergo Reclamation Treatment. Society as a whole forces its members to balance moral considerations with their own self-interest—the prison chaplain, for example, initially does not speak out against Reclamation Treatment because he worries about his career. And, of course, the tension between absolute self-assertion and socialized life is at the center of Alex's maturation as a human being.
Some characters, like Dim and Billyboy or Dr. Brodsky, find ways to bend rules and manifest their inappropriate impulses while still remaining within the realm of the socially acceptable. For Alex, this tension is finally resolved at the end of the book, when, as a somewhat older person, he concludes that the benefits of socialized life are in fact worth the constraints it imposes on individual autonomy. He understands that to live peacefully and settle down with a family he must in turn subscribe to some aspects of socialized life that he might previously have considered oppressive. Now that he has matured, however, Alex recognizes that the benefits of social assimilation far outweigh the costs.
Conformism Quotes in A Clockwork Orange
But poor old Dim kept looking up at the stars and planets and the Luna with his rot wide open like a kid who’d never viddied any such things before, and he said:
“What’s on them, I wonder. What would be up there on things like that?”
I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”
He’d taken a big snotty tashtook from his pocket and was mopping the red flow puzzled, keeping on looking at it frowning as if he thought that blood was for other vecks and not for him. It was like he was singing blood to make up for his vulgarity when that devotchka was singing music. But that devotchka was smecking away ha ha ha now with her droogs at the bar, her red rot working and her zoobies ashine, not having noticed Dim’s filthy vulgarity. It was me really Dim had done wrong to.
Just because the police have not picked you up lately doesn’t, as you very well know, mean you’ve not been up to some nastiness.
More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines? I am serious with you, brothers, over this. But what I do I do because I like to do.
Bog murder you, you vonny stinking bratchnies. Where are the others? Where are my stinking traitorous droogs? One of my cursed grahzny bratties chained me on the glazzies. Get them before they get away. It was all their idea, brothers. They like forced me to do it. I’m innocent, Bog butcher you.
“Righty right, boys, we’ll start off by showing him that we know the law, too, but that knowing the law isn’t everything.”
…and that was the end of traitorous Georgie. The starry murderer had got off with Self Defence, as was really right and proper. Georgie being killed, though it was more than one year after me being caught by the millicents, it all seemed right and proper and like Fate.
Himself has grave doubts about it. I must confess I share those doubts. The question is whether such a technique can really make a man good. Goodness comes from within, 6655321. Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.
Common criminals like this unsavoury crowd…can best be dealt with on a purely curative basis. Kill the criminal reflex, that’s all. Full implementation in a year’s time. Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that. They enjoy their so-called punishment. They start murdering each other.
I do not wish to describe, brothers, what other horrible veshches I was like forced to viddy that afternoon. The like minds of this Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom and the others in white coats, and remember there was this devotchka twiddling with the knobs and watching the meters, they must have been more cally and filthy than any prestoopnick in the Staja itself. Because I did not think it was possible for any veck to even think of making films of what I was forced to viddy, all tied to this chair and my glazzies made to be wide open.
He will be your true Christian…ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the very heart at the thought even of killing a fly.
You’ve made others suffer…It’s only right you should suffer proper. I’ve been told everything that you’ve done, sitting here at night round the family table, and pretty shocking it was to listen to. Made me real sick a lot of it did.
It is not right, not always, for lewdies in the town to viddy too much of our summary punishments. Streets must be kept clean in more than one way.
You’ve sinned, I suppose, but your punishment has been out of all proportion. They have turned you into something other than a human being. You have no power of choice any longer. You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good. And I see that clearly—that business about the marginal conditionings. Music and the sexual act, literature and art, all must be a source now not of pleasure but of pain.
Oh it was gorgeosity and yumyumyum. When it came to the Scherzo I could viddy myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas, carving the whole litso of the creeching world with my cut-throat britva. And there was the slow movement and the lovely last singing movement still to come. I was cured all right.
Tomorrow is all like sweet flowers and the turning vonny earth and the stars and the old Luna up there and your old droog Alex all on his oddy knocky seeking like a mate. And all that cal. A terrible grahzny vonny world, really, O my brothers. And so farewell from your little droog. And to all others in this story profound shooms of lipmusic brrrrrr. And they can kiss my shames. But you, O my brothers, remember sometimes thy little Alex that was. Amen. And all that cal.