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 October 10, 2023
October 3, 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
Just outside town, the boys abandon their car and take
the train back into the center of town. Alex notes that they pay
the fare like perfect gentlemen and then nonchalantly describes
their subsequent vandalism on the train.
The boys return to the Korova Milkbar and notice that
a few things have changed since they left. To Alex’s distaste, the
patron drinking hallucinogenic milk is still there and still intoxicated,
leaving himself open to torment and mockery. The place is also filled with
quite a few new faces. According to Alex, these are mostly other
teens, and a few garishly made-up twenty- and thirty-somethings
just getting off work from the television studio.
One of the people from the older crowd triggers an altercation among
the boys. A woman, sitting at the bar with her friends, sings a
few bars from an opera familiar to Alex. Clownish Dim, hearing this,
makes an obscene gesture toward the woman. The woman doesn’t notice,
but Alex does and becomes enraged. He calls Dim a “[f]ilthy drooling
mannerless bastard” and deals him a hard punch on the mouth. Dim
is at first confused and then angry, telling Alex he had no right
to hit him like that. It begins to look like the two might have
to go outside and settle the dispute with knives, but Pete tries
to calm them down. Alex starts trying to defend what he did, saying that
he’s the leader, that he has to maintain discipline among them, and
that “Dim . . . has got to learn his place.” The other boys don’t quite
seem to agree, but, wary, they keep quiet. To Alex’s surprise, Dim
suddenly drops the argument and suggests that they all just go home
and go to bed. The boys agree and plan to meet as usual the following
Convinced that this squabble has no significance, Alex
leaves the Korova with razor in hand, prepared for any trouble from
Billyboy or other warring gangs. On his way home to Municipal Flatblock 18A,
he passes evidence of some typical street violence: a boy sprawled
out and bleeding on the street; a pair of girls who have likely
been assaulted and raped. Reaching his building, Alex passes a vandalized
municipal painting as well as a freshly damaged elevator and takes
the stairs up to his tenth-floor flat. Inside, Alex eats the dinner
his mother has laid out for him and gets ready for bed. Before trailing
off to sleep, Alex turns on his stereo. He listens, enraptured, to
classical music, first by an American named Geoffrey Plautus, then
Mozart, and finally Bach. During the Bach compositions, Alex muses
on what he read at the writer’s house earlier that night. He thinks
he understands it better now, and if anything, he wishes he could
have “tolchocked them both harder and ripped them to ribbons on
their own floor.”
In an interview, Burgess called writer George Steiner
“the biggest bloody fool who ever lived” for being “so foolish as
to wonder why Nazis, why a concentration camp officer could listen
to Schubert and at the same time send Jews to the gas.” There are,
Burgess says, “two different kinds of good”: the aesthetic and the
ethical, and, as he demonstrates with the character of Alex in Part
One, these two kinds of goodness don’t necessarily correlate with
one another. Alex loves doing cruel things to people, and Alex loves
listening to Beethoven. Though this situation may instinctually
feel counterintuitive to us, there’s no logical reason why these
two predilections should conflict with one another. On the contrary,
as we see, Alex thinks they go together perfectly—he likes very
much to lie on his bed, listening to Mozart and fantasizing about
beating and raping people. It makes sense, then, that Alex would
give Dim a great big punch in the mouth for being disrespectful
toward a beloved opera. This incident, which sows the seeds of a
rebellion against autocratic Alex, does again illustrate Alex’s
strange fastidiousness: he’s violent, but he abhors vulgarity.
The bit of opera that the woman sings foreshadows Alex’s
misery later on in the book. The name of the fictional composer
is Gitterfenster, which is German for “barred window,” pointing
toward Alex’s coming imprisonment, and the bit of an aria that she
sings—“it was the bit where she’s snuffing it with her throat cut,
and the slovos [words] are ‘Better like this maybe’”—points toward
Alex’s suicide attempt in Part Three Chapter 5, when, in the little
apartment he decides he has “to do [himself] in, to snuff it.” Another
bit of foreshadowing of the suicide attempt comes at the end of
this chapter, when he’s lying in bed listening to some music, thinking
about rape, and he actually ejaculates with the bliss of it: “when
the music...rose to the top of its big highest tower, then, lying
on my bed with glazzies [eyes] tight shut and rookers [hands] behind
my gulliver [head], I broke and spattered and cried aaaaaaah.” The
way in which this is described very closely echoes his attempted
suicide in Part Three, Chapter 5, when he goes over to the window,
high up in a big apartment tower, climbs “on to the sill, the music
blasting away to my left, and I shut my glazzies and felt the cold
wind on my litso [face], then I jumped” and spattered on the pavement
Burgess further emphasizes the communist mentality of
this society with the description of the mural in the hall of Alex’s
apartment building. Alex tells us about “the good old municipal
painting on the walls—vecks [men] and ptitsas [women] very well
developed, stern in the dignity of labor, at workbench and machine
with not one stitch of platties [clothing] on their well-developed
plotts [bodies].” What he is describing here sounds just like a
piece of Socialist Realism, the official style of art in the U.S.S.R.,
which most typically consisted of extremely earnest depictions of
healthy, idealized workers. Alex describes further how some of the
kids in the apartment building have vandalized the mural, drawing
speech bubbles with dirty words coming out of the mouths of these
dignified laborers. The relation between the ugly graffiti and the
earnest mural is the same as the relation between the hooligans
and the state; the graffiti and the hooligans are certainly nasty
but, in some way, less threatening than the idea of an official
and bureaucratic art or the specter of the totalitarian state. There
is something human about the graffiti—it represents the work of
independent individuals, however filthy-minded, and not the product
of an administrative decree. While Burgess remains highly critical
of their violence, he does want us to see the thuggish kids as more
human and, thus, as a kind of countermeasure against the repressive
state of A Clockwork Orange.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Clockwork Orange!