A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess
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Part Two, Chapter 6

Summary Part Two, Chapter 6

The contamination of music for Alex represents a particularly tragic loss, since music has been the only thing that engages him in a higher sense of being. Music is, in Burgess’s words, “a figure of celestial bliss,” a sentiment that Alex would obviously agree with, as he labels the doctors’ incorporation of Beethoven into his aversion therapy “a filthy unforgivable sin.” Significantly, Alex has never used the specifically theological word sin to describe an offense perpetrated against him—not when his friends betrayed him, not when the police beat him, not even when a cellmate tried to molest him. While Ludovico’s Technique, by taking away Alex’s free will, has already removed his identity as a human being created by God—or, as the chaplain put it earlier, taken Alex “beyond the reach of the power of prayer”—this loss of divinity finds its most acute expression in the loss of Alex’s beloved music. Hearing Beethoven’s Fifth, Alex vomits for the first time, suggesting that this represents a crucial moment in Alex’s conditioning. Alex rejects the treatment verbally, decrying its humanity, as well as physically. This moment finds an echo in Part Three, when Alex attempts suicide: impelled by music, Alex will throw himself from a window.