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A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess

Part One, Chapter 3

Summary Part One, Chapter 3

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.