page 1 of 2
The boys find the Manse in Oldtown, an older section of the city where the streets are quieter and the houses statelier. Anxious to establish his leadership, Alex insists on trying his usual ploy of sweet-talking his way through the front door. This time, however, Alex’s scheme doesn’t work, and the old woman inside refuses to open the door. Determined, Alex has Dim boost him up to the window above the front door. Once inside, Alex decides that he’ll do the job alone. By the time he opens the front door for his droogs, he plans to have incapacitated and raped the old woman and located the most valuable possessions in the house.
Alex’s idea backfires, though, when he finds the old woman in a large, well-lit room completely overrun with cats. As Alex approaches her, he becomes distracted by a bust of Beethoven on the mantle, and slips on one of the many milk saucers littering the floor. The old woman begins rapping him on the head with her walking stick. Stunned, Alex manages to knock her off balance, but as he kicks her he steps on a cat, which responds by attaching itself to Alex’s leg with its teeth and claws. F.antic, Alex trips on another saucer, and as he comes crashing down, the old woman attacks him, calling on her cats to help. To Alex’s amazement, the cats swarm around him, hissing and scratching. Now in a rage, Alex rises and, with a silver statue he has taken from another room, hits the woman on the head and knocks her unconscious.
Hearing a police siren in the distance, Alex runs for the front door, figuring the old woman must have called the police before he broke in. He finds Dim waiting for him outside with his chain. Before Alex realizes he’s been betrayed, Dim whips him in the eyes and runs off, laughing. Abandoned by his droogs, Alex gropes blindly in the hallway until the police arrive. The policemen taunt Alex as they kick and punch him, and they seem to know Alex by name. Alex is then driven away in a squad car.
Beaten and dismayed, Alex finds himself in a very bright, white room with four officers. Alex demands a lawyer and gets laughed at and punched in the stomach. He makes his situation worse by retaliating and kicking an officer in the shin. The police respond by beating Alex until he vomits, which Alex seems rather ashamed of. On top of this, Alex receives a discouraging visit from P.R. Deltoid. Deltoid looks at Alex coldly, as if Alex were only a “thing,” and although he assures Alex that he’ll come the following day to speak on Alex’s behalf, he spits in Alex’s face before leaving.
The officers then force Alex to make a statement confessing his crimes. Alex tells them everything from the past twenty-four hours, making sure to include his treacherous friends. When Alex finishes his statement, the police drop him in a holding cell crowded with criminals and drunks. As soon as Alex is thrust in there, he has to fight off two prisoners who try to molest him. With the help of a guard, Alex is eventually left alone to get some sleep. He dozes, transfixed by thoughts of Beethoven’s Ninth. During this reverie, Alex envisions a place where satyrs play flutes and Beethoven’s head floats in the sky, shining like the sun. He imagines new, violent lyrics for the “Ode To Joy.” An officer wakes him up and Alex is taken to a new office, where he learns that the old woman he assaulted has died.
If, in previous chapters, Alex feels justified in praising the virtues of intuition over intellect, in these two chapters he experiences firsthand how intuition can fail him. Alex’s trouble with the cat-lady and his subsequent arrest are caused by his youthful impetuousness. Whereas earlier chapters exhibit, in one critic’s words, “the naked beauty of an uninhibited psyche,” these chapters reveal the self-endangering potential of a cocksure punk, ruled by his immature urges. Juvenility proves both a benefit and a disadvantage for Alex. In the past, being underage has allowed Alex to avoid serious legal trouble, but now it seems to have led him toward punishment and incarceration. The saucers of milk that Alex trips over recall the Korova Milkbar, a haven for young delinquents. Milk is also a substance closely associated with youth and infancy, and we’re reminded of its nurturing quality when the older women in Chapter 1 protect the boys, maternally, from the policemen. At the Korova, milk becomes associated with the brash, violent power of youth; at the cat-lady’s house, it becomes a symbol of youth’s arrogance and foolhardiness.
Take a Study Break!