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Heartened by a good night’s sleep, Alex walks around the
top floor of the house, trying to figure out the name of his caring
host. In the man’s room he finds a copy of “A Clockwork Orange,”
by F. Alexander. He begins to leaf through F. Alexander’s book,
though he understands little of what he reads. As far as he can
glean from the somewhat overwrought prose, F. Alexander thinks of
people as fruit that grow on a great tree planted by God, and that
God needs those people to slake his thirsty love. These same people,
however, are in danger of being turned into machines by the modern
world. Reading these words, Alex doubts F. Alexander’s sanity.
F. Alexander eliminates Alex’s doubts, however, when he
greets Alex heartily and cheerfully. F. Alexander has been hard
at work this morning, having already written an article about Alex’s
victimization at the hands of the totalitarian-leaning State, and
waiting for Alex to sign it before it goes to publication. He also
mentions that he’s spoken about Alex over the phone to his associates,
to which Alex unthinkingly responds that he thought F. Alexander
didn’t have a phone. At this, F. Alexander tenses up, and Alex wonders
if F. Alexander remembers that the thugs who raped his wife tried
to trick her into letting them in by asking to use the phone. F.
Alexander’s moment of suspicion passes quickly, but Alex resolves
to stay on his guard nevertheless.
Over breakfast, Alex asks F. Alexander what they’ll get
out of this spate of activism. For F. Alexander, the answer is clear.
F. Alexander sees himself as a defender of liberty, and a triumphant
defense of that liberty would be its own reward. He doesn’t seem
to have given much thought to what Alex stands to gain, however,
and simply urges Alex to finish his breakfast so that they may look
over the article. Commenting on the article, Alex momentarily slips
into nadsat, which seems to trigger another bout
of suspicion in F. Alexander, who remembers the slang from two years
Soon, F. Alexander’s associates arrive—Z. Dolin, Rubinstein, and
D.B. da Silva. They delight in gawking at Alex, their “poor victim”
and weapon against the government. Dolin only wishes Alex could
look “more zombyish,” a sentiment that Alex doesn’t appreciate.
Offended and annoyed, Alex carelessly addresses them in nadsat when
he asks what their plans are for him. F. Alexander notes this strange
language again, growing more suspicious, but only frowning for now.
Meanwhile, Alex becomes upset in his own turn because the men offer
him no tangible solution for returning to the way he was, and further,
treat him as “a thing that’s like got to be just used” in their
political struggle. During this rant, Alex lapses into nadsat almost
entirely, even using the word “dim.” This elicits a crazed gleam
in F. Alexander’s eyes, making Alex nervous. Alex tries to leave,
but realizes the futility of resisting their plans when Dolin approaches
him to grab his arm.
Alex goes with F. Alexander’s associates back into town,
to an apartment not far from Alex’s former home. There, the men
plan to leave him for a while, but before they go, they ask Alex
if he is responsible for F. Alexander’s wife’s death. Though they
promise to be discreet, Alex says only that he has paid for his
sins and the sins of others. This thought causes him to feel a bit
sick, so he lies down to get some sleep.
When Alex wakes, he hears music coming through the wall;
a symphony by a Danish composer named Otto Skadelig. He listens in
joy for the better part of two seconds before the sickness wells
up in him. Distressed, he tries to bang on the wall, but the music
only grows louder. Alex then tries the door, but it has been locked
from the outside. Driven mad by his sickness, he cries out to God
and stumbles around the room until he sees two pamphlets, one that reads,
“DEATH TO THE GOVERNMENT,” and another that reads, “Open the window
to fresh air, fresh ideas, a new way of living.” He takes these
as a sign to jump from the window, several stories above ground.
Alex screams out that he hopes God forgives the world for ruining
his life, and then jumps.
In the previous chapters, Burgess emphasizes the growing
filial relationship between Alex and F. Alexander, who recruits
Alex in his efforts to discredit the government. But as the novel
progresses, the father-son relationship becomes strained, as the
truth about F. Alexander’s wife starts to emerge. In this way, the
relationship between the two men starts to resemble the Oedipal
struggle described by psychologist Sigmund Freud, in which a rivalry
develops between father and son for possession of the mother. F.
Alexander finds himself both solicitous toward Alex as a “poor victim”
and furious at him as the scoundrel who raped and murdered his wife.
In this way, Alex represents the Freudian son who, having wrested
the mother from his father (by raping her, in this case), elicits
feelings of bitterness and vengeance from the scorned father. Thus
defeated, F. Alexander vows revenge, which he nearly succeeds in
exacting by driving Alex to suicide.
In light of this Freudian element, Alex’s mistaken characterization
of F. Alexander as a “kind protecting and like motherly veck [man]”
reveals Alex’s innocence. Throughout A Clockwork Orange we
see numerous references to the government as a paternalistic institution.
Tensions between father figures and young men emerge at several
points in the novel—for example, in Billyboy and Dim’s condescension
toward the old men in the library, and in the abundance of male
officials who patronize Alex. Given these instances, it comes as
no surprise that Alex would associate fatherhood with the forces
that seek to manipulate his will for their own devices. By initially
showing humanitarian concern for Alex, F. Alexander seems to act
in contrast to the other male figures in Alex’s life, causing Alex to
refer to him as “motherly.” But as we see later in this chapter,
F. Alexander makes his fatherly presence felt when he uses Alex
as a tool against the government.
Despite their opposition to the State in the worthy cause
of “Liberty,” F. Alexander and his associates are not heroes. Their
conduct in this chapter satirizes the liberal tendency to forsake
concrete human realities for political and philosophical ideals.
To these men, Alex is not a pitiable human being, but rather, a
“superb device” to be “installed” in their activist plans. This
language better describes a machine than a human, and Alex’s anger
at being treated as a “thing that’s like got to be just used” is
well warranted. Alex’s subsequent lapse into nadsat functions
as an assertion of his individual will, though it also causes F.
Alexander’s men to change their mind about how they will use him
politically. Having found that individuals are inconvenient to the
cause of individualism, they decide that Alex is worth less to them
as a living witness to the State’s injustices and will have a stronger
impact as an abstract “martyr to the cause of Liberty.”
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Clockwork Orange!