Though Alex could never have been prepared for what he undergoes in the screening room, we may find his naiveté surprising. Alex takes it to heart when Branom tells him that the treatment consists merely of watching “special films,” thinking Branom a goodhearted fool for believing that something as innocuous as a movie could change such a fundamental part of him. Even after Alex’s first session of aversive therapy, he continues to trust the smiling and benevolent-seeming Branom. Alex may not believe Branom when he assures Alex that his new, physical response to violence represents the reactions of a normal human being, but he repeatedly fails to make the connection between the supposed vitamin needles and his profound sickness.
In the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, Alex remains steadfastly convinced that he’s managed to resist the treatment. Alex can maintain that naiveté because he and Branom have fundamentally different perceptions of what human beings are. Alex regards himself as a unique being, with his bodily functions (such as the ability to feel nausea) being part of the totality of who he is. Branom, however, sees only a nonspecific set of sensors that respond to stimuli. In other words, Branom sees Alex as a mechanical entity, as predictable as clockwork and incapable of real choice. As long as Branom can control the stimulus, he can control Alex’s response. Alex can’t fathom this concept, which is why he becomes so confused when Branom seems to know when he’s feeling better, and when Branom anticipates his momentary relapse, which occurs when Alex takes a swing at the Discharge Officer.
Though we may not think of Alex as a particularly good Christian, his perspective on the human self fits squarely within a Christian moral framework, which holds that human beings are free and individualized beings, capable of responding in myriad ways to various stimuli and situations. To Branom, however, his own robotic theory of human behavior represents an equally religious dogma. Alex notes that Branom takes a “very holy” tone with him, explaining life in terms of “miracles.” Alex attempts to capitalize on Branom’s righteousness later, when he tries to deceive the doctors by praising God and raising his eyes “in a like holy way,” but Alex makes an unconvincing convert to the religion of science.
In the words of one smirking technician, Ludovico’s Treatment represents “a real show of horrors.” The phrase recalls the nadsat term horrorshow, a garbled translation of the Russian term kharasho, or “good.” In these chapters, the term turns frighteningly literal, as all the things that Alex once found horrorshow become horrifying and nauseating to him. The films, many of which closely resemble Alex’s own crimes, are so real that their existence seems to belie the scientists’ moral authority. Alex writes that “you couldn’t imagine lewdies actually agreeing to having all this done to them in a film, and if these films were made by the Good or the State you couldn’t imagine them being allowed to take these films without like interfering with what was going on.” That the State, the alleged defender and arbiter of righteousness, might sponsor such brutal violence is not only morally condemnable, but morally inconsistent, as well. The depiction of Ludovico’s treatment in Chapters 4 and 5 emphasizes the State’s hypocrisy. The State lacks a genuine humanitarian concern for its test subjects, an idea reinforced by the sadistic glee the technicians take in Alex’s pain and discomfort.