A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Alex is brought into the prison Governor’s office. The Governor explains that the man Alex met yesterday was the Minister of the Interior. The Minister is, according to the Governor, full of “ridiculous” ideas about transforming evil into good. Alex is scheduled to undergo such a transformation at the hands of Dr. Brodsky, and he is expected to be released from state custody in two weeks’ time. With the Governor’s warning that the treatment is not a “reward,” Alex signs a form to consent to this procedure, called “Reclamation Treatment.”
Alex, confident in his self-sufficiency and eager to get out of prison, pays relatively little attention to his choice to undergo treatment. Because Alex has such a powerful sense of self, he assumes that he will be able to outwit any of the government’s attempts to reshape his personality. It will be important to recall the casual manner in which Alex makes this choice, because his choice to undergo Reclamation Treatment will color his future much more than he could have predicted at the time. Would it be fair to hold Alex accountable for the rest of his life for a choice he makes under these circumstances?
Themes
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After his meeting with the Governor, Alex is summoned to the prison chaplain’s office. The chaplain tells the guards to wait outside, and explains that he has strong ethical objections to Reclamation Treatment, but will not protest it for fear of his career. The chaplain ponders whether God would value a human who does not choose to be good, but instead has goodness forced upon him. He continues, and assures Alex that he has had no part in administering the treatment to Alex. The chaplain begins to cry, and Alex, noticing the man has been drinking, laughs to himself. Finally, the chaplain breaks out into a hymn, and the warders escort Alex out of the office.
The chaplain appears to be one of the few characters in the book who is motivated by genuine care for others and sincere moral concerns, and these are what provoke his ethical objections to Reclamation Treatment. However, even the chaplain is not outside the grasp of real-world social considerations. He does not fully fight against the administering of the treatment to Alex because he fears that it will hinder his career—in this way, society influences his moral actions, too. Alex, of course, does not apprehend these deep moral issues, but the chaplain’s singing should remind readers of the drunk, singing man—another character that Alex was too immature to understand or control.
Themes
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The following morning, Alex is escorted to a newly constructed medical compound near the prison. Dr. Branom, an assistant to Dr. Brodsky, conducts a physical and explains Reclamation Treatment to Alex. The therapy will involve showing Alex a number of films and administering a series of shots—though the doctor is vague about what these vaccinations contain. Alex is fed an ample meal, and as he eats he reflects on how easy life will be once he is released from prison. He considers assembling a new gang of droogs, and vows to avenge himself against Pete and Dim. Alex reminds himself to be careful not to get caught again. It would be unfair to let everyone down after they have naively given him another chance at freedom. After Alex finishes his meal, a nurse administers him a shot. Then an orderly appears with a wheelchair and Alex, surprised by how weak he feels, allows himself to be wheeled out of his room.
Alex naively presumes that, when he is released, he will still have the agency that he used to have in the outside world. He never for a moment seems worried that this therapy will change his desires or his ability to act on them. Furthermore, his thought process about getting caught illustrates that his imprisonment has taught him absolutely nothing about right and wrong. Instead of vowing never to behave poorly again, he simply decides that he must avoid being caught. He does not see any moral problems with his behavior, as long as it is not known to others. However, despite his arrogance, Alex’s unexpected weakness at the end of the chapter suggests he may not be in control of the situation to the degree he thinks he is.
Themes
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Free Will vs. the “Clockwork Orange” Theme Icon
Conformism Theme Icon