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A Clockwork Orange

by: Anthony Burgess

F. Alexander

Though they share a name, F. Alexander and Alex are quite different from each other. While Alex is an intuitive creature who makes decisions based on impulse, F. Alexander is an “intelligent type bookman type” who behaves according to abstract concepts, which he ponders from the safety of his country home, far away from the city streets with which he seems so concerned. F. Alexander thinks in broad, theoretical terms, and has trouble focusing on specifics. When Alex begs for mercy after being beaten by the police, F. Alexander pities him not as a suffering boy, but as an abstract “victim of the modern age.” Similarly, when Alex asks him how he expects to improve Alex’s life through the exploitation of his victim status, F. Alexander can’t provide an answer. F. Alexander claims to want to help people like Alex, but he remains unconcerned with Alex as a particular, individual person.

F. Alexander’s failure to embrace actual human reality can be read as a criticism of liberalist ideologies, which Burgess has criticized for being committed to improving the lot of mankind at the expense of man himself. F. Alexander’s belief that man is “a creature of growth and capable of sweetness” is a noble one, especially because he has experienced first-hand the kind of evil men are capable of. However, his readiness to use Alex, also a creature of growth and capable of sweetness, as a “thing” with which to wage war against the State reveals a certain degree of hypocrisy.