Quote 3

Minister of the interior:“Padre, these are subtleties. We’re not concerned with motives, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime and with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons. He will be your true Christian, ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the very heart at the thought even of killing a fly! Reclamation! Joy before the angels of God! The point is that it works.”

The minister of the interior speaks these lines in response to the prison chaplain in the scene in which Alex is tested. He voices the ideological position that what matters most in society is law and order and doing what works. He expresses his disrespect for organized religion when he refers to the chaplain as “Padre” instead of “Father.” Then he twists the language of religion to express his belief that Alex has been transformed. He says Alex will be ready to “turn the other cheek,” as Jesus instructed his disciples to do if they were attacked. He even implies that the government has made Alex a modern-day Jesus, “ready to be crucified rather than crucify.” Of course, Alex has been transformed only physically, not morally, but this distinction is not important for the minister of the interior. What concerns the minister of the interior most is the proper functioning of society, and he cares more about Alex’s behavior than his motivation. The minister of the interior’s words are ironic, since a “true Christian,” as he says Alex will be, embraces both responsible external behavior as well as moral motives for that behavior. These words also foreshadow the second half of the film, in which Alex does become the victim of society’s violence when his conditioning forces him to turn the other cheek.