Analyzing Public Administration Themes in Classic Literature: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, a book originally published in 1962, written by Anthony Burgess, is about a group of youth who like to beat up old men, rape women, and rob stores. The book’s title is based on the central image of humanity becoming mechanical as the state takes away one’s free will. The author, through the negative consequences that come about in Alex’s life, argues that evil is better and more human than forced goodness. The government uses mass media for mind-control purposes to tout a way to “cure” the criminal population.

Two versions of the book exist. The version with the twenty-first chapter shows Alex’s transformation from being young and immature to being older, mature, and wiser. He explains, “perhaps I was getting too old for the sort of jeezney (life) (Classic Note, 2003) I had been leading, brothers” (Burgess, 189, 1962) and then says that “there was this vesch (thing) (Classic Note, 2003) of finding some devotchka (girl) (Classic Note, 2003) or other who would be a mother of this on. I would have to start on that tomorrowâÂ?¦.A new like chapter beginning” (Burgess, 191, 1962). He finds out his buddy Pete is married, “‘Well, I like gaped still. ‘Over this get can I not, old droogie. Pete married. Well well well'” (Burgess, 188, 1962).

“The twenty-first chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction, an art founded on the principle that human beings change,” says Burgess (Burgess, viii, 1962). This twenty-first chapter shows that there comes a time when violence is seen as juvenile and boring and that Alex realizes that he needs to do something in life. He looks back on his past and wishes for a different kind of future. Burgess explains there is no point in writing a novel unless the possibility of moral transformation or an increase in wisdom happens to the main character (Burgess, 1962).

It was not a coincidence that the author choose this last chapter to be chapter 21. “21 is the symbol of human maturity, or used to be, since at 21 you got the vote and assumed adult responsibility” (Burgess, vi, 1962). He explains that his New York publisher did not regard the twenty-first chapter as being important especially for the version to be sold in the United States. “What was really wanted was a Nixonian book with no shred of optimism in it,” Burgess explains (Burgess, viii, 1962). Most versions sold in Great Britain including the French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Russian, Hebrew, Rumanian, and German translations all have twenty-one chapters. The publisher of A Clockwork Orange in 1986 has republished the book to the Untied States with all twenty-one chapters enact (Burgess, 1962).

Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 motion picture of A Clockwork Orange is based on the United States version of the book and as a result some say it glorifies violence and rape while others argue it simply tells a story about violent youth and the dangers of the power of government. The thematic elements of the film give power to a novel that some have a difficult time understanding. “In some instances, the film even suggests that Alex’s promiscuity is just ‘good fun’, as when Alex takes two teeny boppers back to his room and their sexual antics are presented in speeded up motion accompanied by the William Tell Overture” (Pearson, 189, 2001). Alex sings “Singing in the Rain” as he kicks the man from “Home” and rapes his wife (Kubrik & Burgess, 1971).

“There’s no law and order anymore. It’s a stinking world because it’s in with the new and out with the old,” says a poor drunkard to Alex and his friends, also called droogs, at the beginning of the movie (Kubrik & Burgess, 1971). Throughout the book, Alex shows his disregard for older people. “One thing I could never stand was to see a filthy, dirty old drunkie howling away”, says Alex in the movie (Kubrik & Burgess, 1971). The movie makes Alex appear to be more evil than in the book.

Older people chase Alex later in the book when they realize that he is the one that destroyed a man’s rare crystal books. “‘Don’t let him go. We’ll teach him all about punishment, the murderous young pig. Get him.’ And believe it, brothers, or do the other vesch (thing) (ClassicNote, 2003), two or three starry dodderers, about ninety years old apiece, grabbed me with their trembly old rookers (hands) (ClassicNote, 2003), and I was like made sick by the von of old age and disease which came from these near-dead moodges (men) (ClassicNote, 2003)” (Burgess, 144, 1962).

The use of drugs is prevalent in the book at milk bars where customers can get milk plus drugs. “Well, what they sold there was milk plus something else. They had no license for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko (milk) (ClassicNote, 2003), so you could peet (drink) (ClassicNote, 2003) it with vellocet (drug) (ClassicNote, 2003) or synthemesc (drug) (ClassicNote, 2003) or drencrom (drug) (ClassicNote, 2003) or one or two other vesches (things) (ClassicNote, 2003) which would give you a nice quiet horrorshow (good) (ClassicNote, 2003) fifteen minutes admiring Bog (God) (ClassicNote, 2003). And All His Holy Angels And Saints in your left shoe with lights bursting all over your mozg (brain) (ClassicNote, 2003)” (Burgess, 1, 1962). It is possible that the author is trying to say that non-violent crimes such as drug use should be made legal so that police can concentrate more on violent crimes such as homicide, rape, and theft. Reality is distorted as a result of drugs so we aren’t certain how much of the book actually happened to Alex and which parts are his delusions.

Alex, as leader of his small organization, his friends, determines what tasks the group will perform and explains to his group the importance of leadership. “‘There has to be a leader. Discipline there has to be. Right?’ None of them skazatted (said) (ClassicNote, 2003) a word or nodded even. I got more razdraz (upset) (ClassicNote, 2003) inside, calmer out. ‘I,’ said, ‘have been in charge long now. We are all droogs (friends) (ClassicNote, 2003), but somebody has to be in charge. Right? Right?’ They all nodded, wary like” (Burgess, 30, 1962). At first, his friends don’t question his authority as leader, but after he picks on his Dim his authority is openly questioned. “As I am your droog (friend) (ClassicNote, 2003) and leader, surely I am entitled to know what goes on, eh? Now then, Dim, what does that great big horsy gape of a grin portend?’ For Dim had his rot open in a sort of bezoomny (mad) (ClassicNote, 2003) soundless smech (laugh) (ClassicNote, 2003). Georgie got in a very skorry (quickly) (ClassicNote, 2003) with: ‘All right, no more picking on Dim, brother. That’s part of the new way.’ ‘New way?’, I said. ‘What’s this about a new way? There’s been some very large talk behind my sleeping back and no error. Let me slooshy (listen) (ClassicNote, 2003) more.’âÂ?¦.’No offence, Alex’ said Pete, ‘but we wanted to have things more democratic like. Not like you like saying what to do and what not all the time. But no offence'” (Burgess, 51-52, 1962). They are careful not to make Alex mad but want him to understand that things need to be different. Alex hits Dim several times so that he can show who is really the boss. Georgie’s idea to go into the drug trade is also rejected by Alex. All of Alex’s friends want to be leader of the group and as a result none are able to emerge to replace him as their leader. Alex believes it is better to rob for money and tells Georgie that his capitalist idea is no good at all (Burgess, 1962). This is our first look into the author’s opinion on capitalism, which of course is not an economic form embraced by lower class citizens. Alex embraces socialism and tries to convince them of his ideas by calling himself their friend and leader.

Alex will listen to his friends on some issues though. As a leader, he cannot reject all ideas by his friends because if he does so they will leave him and he would no longer be leader. “The real horrorshow (good) (ClassicNote, 2003) leader knows always when like to give and show generous to his like unders.” (Burgess, 56, 1962). Alex takes Georgie’s advice and decides to sneak into a woman’s home so they all can rob and rape her. “They must learn all about leadership” (Burgess, 61, 1962), he says as they attempt to get in her home. The problem is if they all learn about leadership then the group would become more democratic and that would take power away from Alex. Alex sees himself lose his power over the group when he is unable to get out of the house and all of his friends have abandoned him. Georgie’s idea turns out to be a bad one as it leads to Alex getting in trouble with the police.

The issue of police treatment of accused criminals is highlighted in this book when police officers verbally and physically assault Alex when he is arrested. “‘Well’, said the fat-neck, ‘you’ve got the evening in front of you to tell the whole story of the darling exploits of those young gentlemen and how they led poor little innocent Alex astray'” (Burgess, 66, 1962). Later, in the story, Alex is mistreated by the prison guards as well and implies he was sent to an inhumane cell. “So I was kicked and punched and bullied off to the cells and put in with about ten or twelve other plennies (prisoners) (ClassicNote, 2003), a lot of them drunkâÂ?¦” There were bunks in this cell, but all were filled” (Burgess, 72, 1962). Alex explains, “this cell was intended for only three when it was built, but there were six of us there, all jammed together sweat and tight” (Burgess, 84, 1962).

After Alex gets out of prison and a riot occurs in a library, the police are called in. Alex recognizes Billy Boy, his old enemy, and Dim, one of his friends, who are both police officers The officers take Alex out of the police cruiser out in the middle of nowhere near a farm and beat him up. Alex takes a walk, finds a place called “Home, knocks on a door, and explains to the man who answers what has happened. He is immediately taken in.

The man who answered the door knows the power of the government. “‘A victim of the modern age,'” (Burgess, 153, 1962) the man says as he bandages Alex’s wounds. Alex remember this house as one he has broken into before and realizes that he has raped this man’s wife. Alex hopes the man doesn’t recognize him. “‘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'” (Burgess, 156, 1962).

The evaluation of whether police officers always do their jobs correctly is an issue that Wilson discusses in his book when he explains that patrol officers are free to use their discretion because they know that all of their actions will not be reviewed by other people. James Skonick has said officers must learn to take charge by handling a situation rather than simply enforce the law. William Muir’s study of the Oakland Police Department found that different officers had different ways of taking charge. It is possible that this task should be more clearly defined in police training so that citizens can be afforded their rights at all times, even when they are accused of a crime (Wilson, 1989). The control model assumes prisoners are impulsive and dangerous individuals “not to be regarded as incarcerated citizens but as convicted criminals” (Wilson, 19, 1989). This control model, described by Diluilo has one major flaw, “In the hands of a cruel administrator it could become an engine of cruelty. Some of its organizational features were open to abuse” (Wilson, 20, 1989). The model leads officers to treat inmates as “guilty until proven innocent” rather than the crux of the American law system which is “innocent until proven guilty”. It is apparent that the setting of the book though is not in the United States but rather is in Britain.

John Dilulio explains that the responsibility model should be implemented so that prisoners can accept responsibility for their actions. An administrator of a Michigan prison explains the management of state’s prisons: “You have to keep controlâÂ?¦but we don’t have to smoother people to keep things under control. We try to show the inmates respect and expect it in return. We are more willing than Texas to give them air [i.e. freedom] and then hold them accountableâÂ?¦We attempt to operate safely in the least restrictive environment possible” (Wilson, 18, 1989). This theory says that unless violence erupts, rule enforcement should be minimal. He advises that inmates should be able to move around freely, dress how they wish, keep personal effects in their cells, and refuse educational and rehabilitative services if they wish. The problems with this philosophy though are that prisoners can more easily conceal contraband or make weapons. Little meaningful work or education occurred and guard morale was low (Wilson, 1989). The prison Alex is sent to does not belief in this philosophy and believes that disrespecting prisoners is the way to go. It is obvious that the prisoners are required to go to the church service as many are disruptive during the service and must be removed by the guards.

Alex’s cellmates do not treat him like a leader, but rather try to grope and annoy him. The guards fail to stop this behavior and fail to evoke the discipline necessary to keep order in the prison. In Wilson’s view, prisons should more strictly have a closely regulate regime for the prisoners, to discourage inmate groupings, and to award prisoners points if they behave properly and develop an exchange system for these points toward either extra privileges or an early release (Wilson, 1989).

Chief Chasso says that he believes there will be political rebels filling up the prisons, his philosophy is to reform those convicted of crimes so that there will be enough room for the rebels. “‘The Government cannot be concerned any longer with outmoded penological theories. Cram criminals together and see what happens. You get concentrated criminality, crime in the midst of punishment. Soon we may be needing all our prison space for political offenders.’âÂ?¦’Common criminals like this unsavory crowd’ – (that meant me, brothers, as well as the others, who were real prestoopnicks (prisoners) (ClassicNote, 2003) and treacherous with it) – ‘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'” (Burgess, 92, 1962). The chief believes that political rebels, not crime, will be the main threat to society.

“P.R. Deltoid (the prison master) then did something I never thought any man like him who was supposed to turn us baddiwads (bad people) (ClassicNote, 2003) into real horrorshow malchicks (good boys) (ClassicNote, 2003) would do, especially with all those rozzes (policemen) (ClassicNote, 2003) around. He came a bit nearer and he spat” (Burgess, 71, 1962). Alex sarcastically thanks the prison guard for spitting on him. The prison guards return the sarcasm back on Alex. “And you,’ he said to me, ‘can now be shown to your bridal suite with running water all the conveniences'” (Burgess, 72, 1962).
Alex knows things must change and when a new prisoner comes in, he beats up the man. He does this to gain power and respect by his prisoners. Gaining respect from the prison master is a different story. After Deltoid calls Alex into his office to tell him that the woman Alex beat up died, he is rude to Alex and Alex is rude right back to him. “‘Well, what?’ I said, smecking (laughing) (ClassicNote, 2003). ‘Are you not satisfied with beating me near to death and having me spat upon and making me confess to crimes for hours on end and then shoving me among bezoomnies (mad men) (ClassicNote, 2003) and vony (smelly) (ClassicNote, 2003) perverts in the that grahzny (dirty) (ClassicNote, 2003) cell? Have you some new torture for me, you bratchny (bastard) (ClassicNote, 2003)?’ ‘It’ll be your own torture, he said, serious. ‘I hope to God it’ll torture you to madness'” (Burgess, 74, 1962).

One of the problems with using prison as punishment for criminals is that once they are out, little time lapses before they are sentenced once again. The Prison Chaplain highlights this concern when talking to the prisoners during a Sunday worship service. “Is it going to be in and out and in and out of institutions like this, though more in than out for most of you, or are you going to attend to the Divine Word and realize the punishments that await the unrepentant sinner in the next world, as well as in this?” (Burgess, 77, 1962). The Chaplain believes that people must want to voluntarily turn away from crime. Alex talks to the Chaplain about a new drug treatment, Ludovico’s Experiment that promises to rehabilitate prisoners. The Chaplain, however, doubts whether the treatment will actually do what it promises. “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 (Alex’s prison number). Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man,” says the Chaplain (Burgess, 82-83, 1962).

Formal organizational goals do not apply to prisons because employees of prisons are told that the stated goal of the facility is to deter crime and rehabilitating criminals. However, control is the key focus of the guards’ energies, not rehabilitation or deterrence (Wilson, 1989). Rehabilitating criminals and determining at what point they should return to society is a problem that plagues us today. What criminals should be doing while incarcerated is also another concern. Many municipalities have prisoners pick up trash along side of the road or do tasks such as painting in town buildings or mowing Town Hall lawns.
Even those in government cannot agree on the treatment of criminals. “Well, these new ridiculous ideas have come at last and orders are orders, though I may say emphatically do not approve. An eye for an eye, I say. If someone hits you you hit back, do you not? When then should not the State, very severely hit by you brutal hooligans, not hit back also? But the new view is to say no. The new view is that we turn the bad into the good. All of which seems to me grossly unjust” (Burgess, 93, 1962).

The government’s ability to take power away from the individual is shown as Alex is injected with a medicine that will make him sick as he watches violent films. This “treatment” takes place as he sits in a projection room. The association of Alex getting sick and the violent films are supposed to result in Alex getting sick whenever he thinks about violence.

The state was careful to use a variety of different types of films to ensure the treatment would work. The first film shown to Alex was about two boys beating up a senior citizen. This film was designed for prisoners to have more respect for the elderly. The second film shown to Alex is about six or seven guys who take turns raping a girl. Obviously, this film was designed to stop its viewers from raping or sexually assaulting people. Alex has a great deal of knowledge about rape based on how many times he and his friends have raped women and he has a hard time believing how real these films appear to be. “This was real, very real, though if you thought about it properly you couldn’t imagine lewdies (people) (ClassicNote, 2003) actually agreeing to have all this done to them in a film, and if these films were made by the Good or the State you couldn’t imagine them being allowed to take these films without like interfering with what was going on. So it must have been very clever what they call cutting or editing or such veschch (thing) (ClassicNote, 2003). For it was very real” (Burgess, 103, 1962).

Questioning the government and media content are both done by Alex. This questioning leads to critical analysis as we all have a responsibility to understand what power our government and media have over us and how they distort our world (Pearson, 190, 2001). We should use caution when evaluating such messages.

The government uses the third film to stop viewers from lashing out their aggressive behaviors toward others through physical violence. Alex gets real sick as he watches the film that has close-up shots of someone’s face after the person was beat up. The person has cuts on his face and there is blood everywhere.

The interest of the state to prevent robberies, arson, and assault are shown in the fourth film. The film is about several guys beating up an old lady and afterwards they break up the shop and set fire to it. Close-up pictures of her pain-struck face are shown, as she is unable to get herself up because she fell. This movie made Alex extremely sick and he asks the doctors to stop the films but they refuse.

The power and destruction of war and a nation in distress are clearly shown in the fifth film that Alex watches. He sees the Japanese torture during World War II with pictures of soldiers being nailed to trees, fires being lit underneath them, men cutting off other men’s testicles, and a soldier’s head being cut off by a sword. Alex heard loud Japanese laughter on the soundtrack of the movie causing him to feel terrible pains in his stomach and his head. “The key difference between the German army in 1940 and its French opponents was not in grand strategy, but in tactics and organizational arrangements well-suited to implementing those tactics” (Wilson, 14, 1989). Organization is important and through showing this film, the state wants to ensure it has control over individuals. The sixth film is similar to the fifth film and Alex breaks down and cries after the film showing that any dignity he had left has been taken by the state.

The films were intended to fully transform Alex into an individual who will shy from violence. In the state’s desire to reform an individual, they forget that if they put prisoners through such treatment they will no longer be able to serve their country as soldiers if the need were to arise.

Alex explains to the doctor that he understands that violence is wrong but that Ludwig van Beethoven music should not have been featured as the soundtrack to the film because he will no longer be able to enjoy the music. Alex is the guinea pig and of course, neither the doctors nor the state thought about other possible unintended consequences of the therapy.

In the interest of politicians, the state decides to design scenarios for Alex to go through proving the effectiveness of the treatment. Alex is put on stage in front of the governor, Minister of the Interior, and other government officials. The first scenario features an old man who verbally abuses Alex and flicks his fingers at him. Rather than try to fight him, Alex gets down on his knees and offers to lick his boots. “‘Please let me do something. Shall I clean your boots? Look, I’ll get down and lick them.’ And, my brothers, believe it or kiss my sharries (buttocks) (ClassicNote, 2003), I got down on my knees and pushed my red yahzick (tongue) (ClassicNote, 2003) out a mile and a half to lick his grazhny vonny (soiled and smelly) (ClassicNote, 2003) boots. But all this veck (man) (ClassicNote, 2003) did was to kick me not too hard on the rot (mouth) (ClassicNote, 2003)” (Burgess, 125, 1962). Alex know that if he even thinks about violence, he will get sick and is starting to understand how powerful the government has infiltrated his mind.

Dr. Brodsky asks the audience if they have any questions about the treatment. The Prison Charlie said, “‘Choice, He has no real choice, has he? Self-interest, fear of physical pain, drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.’ ‘These are subtleties,’ like smiled Dr. Brodsky. ‘We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime-‘” (Burgess, 126, 1962). Alex sarcastically asks Dr. Brodsky whether he is treated like an animal but the doctor replies that Alex made this choice and everything that comes from it is what he has chosen.

In the second scenario, an attractive woman comes on stage. Alex stops himself from thinking about having sex with her and plays the role he is intended to play. “‘O most beautiful and beauteous of devotchkas (girls) (ClassicNote, 2003), I throw like my heart at your feet for you to like trample all over. If I had a rose I would give it to you. If it was all rainy and cally (feces) now on the ground you could have my platties (clothes) (ClassicNote, 2003) to walk on so as not to cover your dainy nogas (feet) (ClassicNote, 2003) with filth and cal (feces) (ClassicNote, 2003)'” (Burgess, 128, 1962).

This demonstration shows that Alex was transformed into a man no longer fascinated by sex but fascinated in being a doormat for others to walk all over. The governor and Minister of the Interior now learn how much power they have over others if this treatment worked for Alex. If Alex can no longer think about sex, than sex has been outlawed to him by the state as punishment for his crime similar to how the government in George Orwell’s 1984 outlawed sex.

“‘He will be your true Christian,’ Dr. Brodsky was creeching (shouting) (ClassicNote, 2003) out, ‘ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the very heart at the thought of even killing a fly.’ And that was right, brothers, because when he said that I thought of killing a fly and felt that just tiny bit sick, but I pushed the sickness and pain back by thinking of the fly being fed with bits of sugar and looked after like a bleeding pet and all that cal (feces) (ClassicNote, 2003)” (Burgess, 129, 1962).

After his release, Alex goes to a coffeehouse, a free man. He sees his picture in the paper as the first graduate of the new State Institution for Reclamation of Criminal Types and reads that the police have gotten raises and are making the streets safer. His treatment is to serve as punishment to him but also as a deterrent to others. The goal is to create a society without crime similar to the government’s goal in eliminating crime as illustrated in the 2002 motion picture Minority Report.

As Alex goes back to his parent’s apartment building, he notices the “new” society where the mural in the building was repainted, the elevator works, and the vandalism is gone. A new law enacted by the police resulted in the seizure of all of Alex’s things, his dad tells him. A new man named Joe lives in Alex’s old room and explains to Alex that he does not deserve to come back home. Joe says, “‘I’ve heard all about you, boy. I know what you’ve done, breaking the hearts of your poor grieving parents. So you’re back, eh? Back to make life a misery for them once more, is that it? Over my dead corpse you will, because they’ve let me be more like a son to them than like a lodger'” (Burgess, 134, 1962). Alex decides that he will guilt trip his parents by telling them that he will make it own his own and he does not need their help. After he leaves, he decides to go to the library to figure out how to find a cure from the treatment.

After Alex is locked in the room at “Home” and Beethoven music is played loudly resulting in him feeling sick, he attempts to commit suicide. He jumps from the window and gets this motivation from a brochure in the room that says, “Death to the Government”. He sees another booklet in the room that says, “‘Open the window to fresh air, fresh ideas, a new way of living'” furthering encouraging him to do himself in (Burgess, 168, 1962). Alex wakes up in the hospital and starts to understand what the Chief meant by political rebels. “And just before I passed out I viddied (saw) (ClassicNote, 2003) clear that not one chelloveck (person) (ClassicNote, 2003) in the whole horrid world was for me and that that music through the wall had all been like arranged by those who were supposed to be my like new droogs (friends) (ClassicNote, 2003) and that it was some veshch (thing) (ClassicNote, 2003) like this that they wanted for their horrible selfish and boastful politics” (Burgess, 169, 1962).

As Alex regains consciousness, he sees a beautiful nurse sitting next to him and for the first time since the treatment he is able to think about sex without feeling sick. “She was a real horrorshow (good) (ClassicNote, 2003) devotchka (girl) (ClassicNote, 2003), this nurse, with a very red rot (mouth) (ClassicNote, 2003) and like long lashes over her glazzies (eyes) (ClassicNote, 2003), and under her like very stiff uniform you could viddy (see) (ClassicNote, 2003) she had very horrorshow (good) (ClassicNote, 2003) groodies (breasts) (ClassicNote, 2003)” (Burgess, 170, 1962).

The men from “Home” came by to visit Alex but Alex told them that they want him dead because that would help their cause even more and that they aren’t his friends at all. The nurse asks them to leave because she says they shouldn’t be upsetting Alex like that. Alex’s parents come to visit him as well and here we finally see that the government will have to change its ways because the newspaper features a story about Alex and how the government mistreated him. Alex is happy when he learns that Joe was arrested. The power of a government that fails to give its citizens basic rights is illustrated in what Alex’s mother tells him, “‘Minding his own business he was,’ said my pee (mom) (ClassicNote, 2003). ‘And the police told him to move on. Waiting at a corner he was son, to see a girl he was going to meet. And they told him to move on and he said he had rights like everybody else, and then they sort of fell on top of him and hit him about cruel'” (Burgess, 173, 1962). His parents urge him to move back in with them.

The doctor gives Alex a test to see whether his being knocked unconscious took away any effects the treatment had on him. Each picture Alex is shown, he describes violence even though the pictures are of objects and people. The Minister of the Interior then comes in, he represents the government and wants to ensure that Alex does not start a political revolt against the government. The government knows they did wrong against him though they don’t want to admit it. “‘I and the Government of which I am a member want you to regard us as friends. Yes, friends. We have put you right, yes? You are getting the best of treatment. We never wished you harm, but there are some who did and do. And I think you know who those are'” (Burgess, 177, 1962). Someone takes a picture of the minister and Alex for the newspaper and the government gives Alex a new stereo to make up for the wrong they have caused him. Alex asks to hear the Ninth symphony and signs government papers, he does not know what he is signing but he is glad he is back to his normal self.

In the twenty-first chapter, Alex finds other friends to hang out with but he mentions one of the members is much stronger than he is and wants to be the leader. Alex explains he has all of the ideas and that is why he is a better leader. However, he sees the reality of a new society and fails to take pleasure in the violence he used to partake in. “I suppose really a lot of the old ultra-violence and crasting (robbery) (ClassicNote, 2003) was dying out now, the rozzes (police) (ClassicNote, 2003) being so brutal with who they caught, though it had become like a fight between naughty nadstats (teenagers) (ClassicNote, 2003) and the rozzes (policemen) (ClassicNote, 2003) who could be more skorry (quick) (ClassicNote, 2003) with the nozh (knife) (ClassicNote, 2003) and the britva (razor) (ClassicNote, 2003) and the stick and even the gun. But what was the matter with me these days was that I didn’t like care much” (Burgess, 186, 1962). This chapter begins his transformation into a character that is maturing and even though he has a choice, he will choose to become a better person.

A Clockwork Orange is a piece of literature that has many themes about society, leadership, government, punishment, and prisons, and control over the individual. The motion picture, though different from the book, helps to illustrate these themes. Both the book and the motion picture are powerful and are untimely classics that people can relate to in our generation and generations to come.


Burgess, A. (1962). A clockwork orange. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1986 version.

ClassicNote on A Clockwork Orange. Glossary of Terms.
Titles/clockwork/glossary.html. Updated 12/2/03.

Kubrick, S. (Producer/Director), & Burgess, A. (Writer). (1971). A clockwork orange [Motion picture]. United Kingdom: Warner Bros. and Polaris Productions Inc.

Pearson, D.A. Jr. (2001). Anthony Burgess’s A clockwork orange. In Karolides, N.J., Burress, L., Kean, & John M. (Eds.) Censored books: Critical viewpoints. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Wilson, J.Q. (1989). Bureaucracy: What government agencies do and why they do it. USA: Basic Books.

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