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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors
used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
As a substance that primarily nourishes young animals,
milk symbolizes the immaturity and passivity of the people who habitually drink
it at the Korova Milkbar. Their drinking of milk suggests the infantilization
and subsequent helplessness of the State’s citizens. By virtue of
its whiteness and homogenization, milk also symbolizes uniformity
among the teenagers who drink it. The fact that the milk is laced
with drugs is ironic, suggesting that these youths are less wholesome
and innocent than adults, not more.
Referred to generically as hallucinogens in this study
guide, these three drugs symbolize neutrality, or “thingness.” The
people in the novel who use them become inhuman while experiencing
the effects of them, receding from the reality around them.
These things are associated with Alex’s domain, and thus
represent peace and security to him. The chaplain, who is garbed
in black and defends Alex against the State, might also fall into
this category of objects. Darkness represents the privacy and solitude
necessary for an individual will to exist and make choices freely.
Daytime and sunlight represent danger for Alex. In Part
One, Alex notes that there are several more policemen—figures of
repression—out patrolling during the day. The harsh lights of the
police station interrogation room create a kind of artificial day,
and the doctors, with their white jackets, continue the trend of
brightness being associated with threat and menace. The only time
the chaplain wears white is during an exchange with Alex, where
the chaplain gets Alex to snitch on his fellow prisoners in order
to further his own career ambitions. Lightness represents the demystification
of the individual.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Clockwork Orange!