A Clockwork Orange

by: Anthony Burgess

Part Three, Chapter 7

Alex’s insistence on formal and structural motifs in his narrative draws attention to his reinstatement as someone capable of and predisposed to viciousness, while simultaneously alerting us to the transformation his character undergoes. Alex looks the part and speaks the part, but these days he shies away from acting the part, as he suggests to us while Bully and the others beat an old man: “More and more these days I had been just giving the orders and standing back to viddy them being carried out.” The rhythmic intensity of the language Alex uses to describe the ensuing violence pales in comparison to Alex’s earlier accounts of poundings given by his old droogs. Indeed, its vigor seems all but gone as his fondness for violence fades.

Alex’s nadsat returns with full strength during his meditations on the prospect of fatherhood and the likelihood of him making the same mistakes as his father: “And so it would itty on to like the end of the world, round and round and round, like some bolshy gigantic like chelloveck, like old Bog Himself (by courtesy of Korova Milkbar) turning and turning and turning a vonny grahzny orange in his gigantic rookers.” This passage demonstrates Alex’s recognizably Christian conception of life as a cyclical pattern, with original sin eventually being followed by redemption. Upon realizing this concept of moral and spiritual growth, Alex finally answers the question he asks himself in the beginning of this chapter: “What’s it going to be then, eh?” Alex is now mature enough to understand the connection between violence and youth, the latter of which he compares to clockwork wind-up toys that move forward, unrelentingly and unthinkingly, in straight lines. Earlier in his life, violence has served as an affirmation of Alex’s free will, but as he grows older, Alex realizes that only through suffering can he truly be capable of making meaningful moral choices.