A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange Summary and Analysis of Part Three, Chapters 1-4

Part Three, Chapter 1 Summary:

After interviews and more demonstrations and a night of sleep, Alex is a free man. He asks himself "'What's it going to be then, eh?'" and decides to get some breakfast. He eats at a workers' joint nearby, and the sight of the workers groping the waitress makes him sick. He buys what appears to be a Government newspaper, which boasts of having made the streets safe the last six months with a bulked-up police force. He sees a picture of himself and a laudatory article about Ludovico's Technique.

He plans to go home, listen to music, and plan what to do with his life. He is surprised to find the flat is cleaned up, functional, and the painting of workers no longer has any obscene graffiti. He unlocks his door and finds his parents eating breakfast with a burly man. The man tells Alex to leave, while his mother cries and fears Alex has escaped from jail. The man is introduced as Joe, a lodger, but he claims he is more of a son to Alex's parents than Alex is.

Alex tells Joe to clear his stuff out of his room, but he finds his room is completely changed - the police took away his possessions in compensation for the victims, the victims being the cats. His father explains that they have a contract with Joe for two years and they cannot kick him out. Alex cries, but Joe urges the parents to remain tough. Alex says no one loves him and that they all want him to keep on suffering; Joe says Alex has made others suffer and deserves to suffer himself. Alex leaves, making them feel guilty and claiming they will never see him again.


The structural symmetry in the novel commences; each chapter in Part Three has something in common with its mirror-image chapter from Part One, such that Chapter 1 here connects with Chapter 7 from Part One, Chapter 2 goes with Chapter 6, and so on. In Chapter 7 of Part One, Alex was taken to the police station where he was beaten the police, notably a big, fat policeman, spat upon by P.R. Deltoid, put in a terrible cell, and told he had committed murder. Here, he is released from his murder sentence, finds his home is no longer his home, is rejected by his parents (in lieu of P.R. Deltoid, a semi-parental figure), and emotionally beaten by the big, burly Joe. The symmetry of the novel acts like the classical musical pieces Alex loves, with repeating motifs and juxtapositions, and magnifies the huge reversal in Alex's life. The "'What's it going to be then, eh?'" at the start of the chapter solidifies Alex's alienation; this time he asks only himself the question, but the reader knows Alex's loss of free will means he has little power to change his life.

In addition, there has been tighter State control in Alex's absence. The streets are safer, everything is more functional, and the police have greater control. Just as Alex's free will has been cut, so has that of the everyday citizen; but while the citizens live in a physical police state, Alex's police state is mental.

The use of a lodger to displace the rightful son is perhaps an allusion to Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, in which three lodgers dominate the house of Gregor Samsa. That Gregor has metamorphosed into a cockroach augments the allusion; Alex, too, has lost part of his humanity.

Part Three, Chapter 2 Summary:

Alex goes to his favorite record store in the cold winter morning. The place is swarming with teenagers, including one at the counter. Alex asks for a Mozart symphony but the counterman plays him the wrong one in the listening-booth. Regardless, the music makes him sick from its association with Ludovico's Technique, and Alex runs out of the store to the Korova Milkbar.

Alex orders a laced milk drink. After he drinks it, he has strange visions and babbles odd words. He has a vision of statues of God and angels and saints and feels heavenly for a moment before he feels suicidal. But the thought of slitting his throat with his razor makes him sick, so he decides to go to the public library and find other ways to kill himself. He relishes the thought of making everybody - his parents, the doctors, Joe, and the government - feel sorry for his death.

At the library, Alex finds that a medical book full of drawings of diseases makes him sick. The Bible, with its stories of violence, also makes him sick. He tells a man nearby that he wants to end his life. The man comforts him at first until he realizes who Alex is, and Alex realizes who he is: the man with the science books his gang beat up more than two years ago. The man tells the other old people in the library that Alex is the one who ruined the rare Crystallography books and beat him up. Alex says he has been punished and cured, but before he can go, several old men grab him. Alex gets sick as they hit him. An attendant tries to stop them but cannot, so he goes to call the police, a measure Alex never thought he would support. After more thrashing, the police finally arrive and break up the fight.


Just as he could not knock himself unconscious in the hospital, Alex lacks the free will even to commit suicide, as thoughts of violence make him ill. Likewise, violence done to him makes him sick beyond the physical pain of the beating. Ending his life now requires the same sort of creativity needed from his formerly violent ways.

The structural symmetry between Parts One and Three continues in this chapter to demonstrate how much Alex's life has inverted. In Part One, Chapter 6, Alex beat up and eventually killed an old woman before the police arrived. Here, old people take their revenge on him until the police come; in fact, the old people resemble the woman's cats as they swarm and claw at Alex. There are more opposites: Alex drinks the laced milk, whereas in the other chapter he tripped over the saucers of milk the old woman had left out for her cats. He also babbles like the incoherent drug addict he saw in Part One. The statue of God he sees is reminiscent of the silver statue with which he bashed the old woman's head, as well as of the bust of Beethoven he wanted.

His vision of God and the angels seemingly denying him entrance into heaven - "Bog and the Angels and Saints sort of shook their gullivers at me, as though to govoreet that there wasn't quite time now but I must try again" - indicates that for Alex to get into Heaven, he cannot rely solely on his reflexive goodness, since it is not true goodness. Somehow he must choose goodness for full redemption.

Part Three, Chapter 3 Summary:

The police beat back the old people, then address Alex. They turn out to be his old nemesis, Billyboy, and his old friend, Dim. They accuse Alex of starting trouble with the old people and put him in their car. Dim refuses to acknowledge his past with Alex. They drive him off into the country, pound him mercilessly, and leave him on the ground. Alex has little money and nowhere to go. He cries and begins walking.


Alex's victimization again turns ironically and symmetrically. In Part One, Chapter 5, he fought and defeated Dim for his insubordination. Now, Dim takes his revenge, along with Billyboy. That both have become policemen should come as no surprise: the State has consistently proven itself as corrupt as the purported hooligans who roam the streets, and now it truly is comprised of said hooligans.

Part Three, Chapter 4 Summary:

Alex walks through the rain to the "HOME" cottage. He knocks on the door and asks the man inside to help him, as the police have beaten him and left him to die. The kindly man takes Alex in, and Alex remembers he is the writer of the manuscript for "A Clockwork Orange." He feels safe knowing the man will not know him, since Alex used to wear a mask during his crimes. The man, F. Alexander, lets Alex take a hot bath and gives him food. F. Alexander says he read about Alex in the newspaper, and he feels it was providential that he came to him.

Careful not to reveal his past identity, Alex allows that he has heard of "A Clockwork Orange," though he has not read it. He relates his story, starting from the murder - though he fabricates telling details - through his treatment. F. Alexander is sympathetic to Alex and outraged that he has been turned into a "'piece of clockwork.'" He wants to use Alex to dislodge the "'overbearing Government.'" He also mentions that his wife died from a brutal rape and beating. Alex gets sick thinking about the episode, and F. Alexander sends him to bed.


The ironies pile up in this chapter. The story Alex uses about being in danger is now true. F. Alexander's comment about Alex's being a "'victim of the modern age,'" just like his dead wife, is packed with obvious irony, as well.

The symmetry continues. Instead of being fed by his parents, as he was in Part One, Chapter 4, Alex now receives a bountiful meal thanks to F. Alexander. And in lieu of P.R. Deltoid's visit, Alex visits the home of F. Alexander and gets far more kindly treatment and guidance.

Yet F. Alexander still wants, in his own words, to "'use'" Alex in his battle against the State. Even with those who trumpet the necessity of free will seem intent on co-opting whatever remains of Alex's freedom for their own agendas.

Despite these immense ironies and kind reception, Alex is clearly not reformed. He only cares about having killed F. Alexander's wife because the image makes him sick; he has no emotional remorse, only a physical reflex.