Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews September 28, 2023
September 21, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
*See discount terms and conditions.
Alex’s fall from the building doesn’t kill him, but he
does break his back, wrists, and feet, among other body parts, before
passing out, a crumpled mess in the street. Just before he slips
into unconsciousness, Alex comes to the realization that F. Alexander’s
associates, his supposed new friends, meant to kill him for “their
horrible selfish and boastful politics.”
Alex wakes up a week later in a hospital, covered in bandages and
splints and unable to feel any physical sensations. The nurse, absorbed
in a popular romance novel, doesn’t notice Alex until he begs her
to lie down with him. All she can hear, however, is a garbled voice,
since Alex has a stiff mouth and several teeth missing. She goes
off, presumably to get a doctor, leaving Alex drifting in and out of
consciousness. The next thing he knows, doctors are standing above
him, and he believes he hears the voice of the prison chaplain, telling
him that he’s quit the Staja to preach about Alex’s tribulations.
Alex doesn’t remain awake long enough to remember any more, but
the next time he opens his eyes, Dolin, Rubinstein, and da Silva
are there, calling him “friend” and telling him he has served “Liberty”
well. This upsets Alex, but when he tries to castigate them for
their treachery, his swollen mouth makes his words incomprehensible.
The men show Alex the numerous headlines from the past week, all
of which indict the government and the Minister of the Interior,
until the nurse chases them away.
Alex falls back into a dream, where he sees himself engaging
in his old behaviors: stealing cars, running down pedestrians, and
having sex with women while people cheer. When Alex wakes up, his parents
are in his room, his mother in tears. According to his father, Joe
went back to his hometown after being beaten in the street by police
officers to whom Joe had been asserting his rights. Alex’s father
then tells him that they’d like Alex to come home, feeling guilty
now about how they turned their son away. Alex can talk at this
point, and orders them out, telling them that if he chooses to come
back, things will have to be run according to his orders.
Alone with his thoughts now, Alex realizes that he can
once again entertain thoughts of violent and unlawful behavior.
When the nurse returns, he asks her if something has been done to
his head. The nurse gives a cryptic answer, but two days later,
Alex obtains conclusive evidence that he has indeed been restored
to his old self, as two young doctors tell him he has been cured
by “deep hypnopaedia.”
Some days later, his health greatly improved, Alex receives
a visit from the Minister of the Interior, who arrives with a swarm
of reporters and photographers. The Minister offers his hand in
friendship, explaining that as a representative of the government,
he never meant Alex any harm. He points out to Alex that they have
cured him and have arranged a well-paying job for him when he fully
recuperates. Unlike F. Alexander—whom the Minister portrays as a murderous
man whom the State has imprisoned, for his own and Alex’s protection—the
Minister tells Alex that he should consider him his true friend.
Caught up in the hysteria of the moment, Alex smiles when a photographer
shouts at him and takes a picture of Alex and the Minister, looking
very friendly with each other.
Before the Minister leaves, he gives Alex a present. Attendants roll
out a large stereo, and Alex has merely to sign a form before they will
leave him alone to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Alex signs,
and then rapturously listens to the Ninth.
Alex’s conversation with the Minister allows us to reconstruct
the events that occur outside the hospital during Alex’s convalescence. For
a week or so, the State has foundered, awash in a media blitz concerning
Alex’s attempted suicide. Dolin, Rubinstein, and da Silva inform
Alex of all this, happy to call him “friend” at this point because,
with his damaged mouth, they can’t understand Alex’s words. By the
time Alex can speak again, though, the State has nearly recovered
from the onslaught of bad press. The Minister tells Alex that F.
Alexander has been apprehended “for his own protection” as well
as Alex’s, yet Alex’s clipped expression of gratitude—“Most kind
of thou”– suggests that he knows who the real beneficiary is.
That the outcome of the State seems to hinge on Alex underlines the
book’s political dilemma. With each faction prepared to sacrifice the
individual—as represented by Alex—for the sake of its political aspirations,
Burgess presents us with a difficult choice. F. Alexander’s faction
may concern itself with, in one critic’s words, “the tradition of
liberty and the dignity of man,” but it readily abandons its own
doctrine when it tries to use Alex as a disposable pawn. The Minister’s
oppressive party, ultimately concerned with domestic stability,
has no such pretensions of individual liberty, and in its commitment
to that principle, at least, it demonstrates a kind of moral consistency.
Each party remains equally condemnable for its exploitation of Alex,
and Alex is a “friend” to each only insofar as he provides a means
to a desirable end. Burgess doesn’t prod us to decide between the
two, but he does compel us to recognize that there should, indeed,
be a choice.
While it shouldn’t be read as a tacit approval of the
State’s policies, the government’s triumph does allow for Alex to
be restored to his old self. Having regained his old psyche, Alex
has grandiose visions of “carving the whole litso of the creeching
world with [his] cut-throat britva” to the sounds of Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony. And though the State hopes to minimize the damage
he may cause by bribing him with gifts and a lucrative job, we may
expect Alex to commit more acts of violence. The implication, though,
is that this conclusion is preferable to Alex’s “thingness” because,
in his decision to act criminally, Alex is at least expressing his
human capacity for moral choice.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Clockwork Orange!