A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange Summary and Analysis of Part Three, Chapters 5-7

Part Three, Chapter 5 Summary:

Alex wakes from a peaceful, dreamless sleep. He finds a copy of "A Clockwork Orange" and sees the name of the author and his caretaker: F. Alexander. He reads some and makes out the main idea, which is that people are being turned into machines. The other idea about humans resembling fruit in God's orchard makes Alex wonder if the writer is crazy.

F. Alexander calls Alex down and tells him he has been on the phone with various people for hours. Alex says he thought the house did not have a phone, remembering the writer's wife saying that. F. Alexander is suspicious for a moment, then resumes telling Alex about his work. He says Alex can be a weapon in helping throw the present Government out of office in the next election. The Government's major victory, in its opinion, has been reducing crime through a brutal police force and Ludovico's Technique. He fears totalitarianism is on the horizon. He wants Alex to sign an article he has written about Alex's record.

Alex asks if he will be able to reverse Ludovico's Technique. F. Alexander sidesteps the question and shows Alex the article. It is a sad account of Alex's suffering and a proposal to defy the Government, and Alex compliments it with the word "'horrorshow.'" F. Alexander asks about the word, Alex explains it is nadsat, and the writer finishes up the dishes in the kitchen.

The door rings and F. Alexander lets in three men, Z. Dolin, Rubinstein, and D. B. da Silva. They observe Alex and discuss their plans for him as if he is not there. Alex speaks in more nadsat, and F. Alexander says he feels he has come into contact with him before. Speaking more carefully, Alex asks what will become of him. They assure him that "'the Party will not be ungrateful,'" and that he will receive a surprise. Alex wants to return to how he used to be, but they ignore his pleas. Alex screams that he is not dim, and F. Alexander wonders if Alex could be connected to the gang that raped and killed his wife. His friends try to calm him down. When Alex tries to leave, they restrain him.

The men, without F. Alexander, drive him to a flat in the city, his new home. They ask Alex if he was in the gang that raped and killed F. Alexander's wife. He admits he was, but says he has paid for his actions. They go to another room to do work. Alex lies on the bed for a while, feeling bad about his life and the world, before drifting off to sleep. He awakens hearing a classical music piece and feels sick. He yells for them to turn it off and bangs against the wall in agony, but the music stays on. Running around the apartment, he sees the word "DEATH" on the cover of an anti-government pamphlet. Another pamphlet has a picture of an open window on it, and both inspire Alex to commit suicide by jumping out of the window. He climbs out the open window in his room and jumps.


F. Alexander and his friends are not much better than the Government. They, too, want to restrict Alex's free will and use him to prove a point; they, too, turn him into a clockwork orange. Having him sign the article is similar to the confession he signs for the police; at least with the police he got to tell the story in his own words. Making the liberal freedom-fighters somewhat totalitarian characters themselves allows Burgess to counter his own argument and balance out A Clockwork Orange.

The symmetrical pairing between this chapter and Part One, Chapter 3 centers around music. In the latter, Alex listened to the woman sing beautifully in the Korova Milkbar. She seemed like "some great bird [that] had flown into the milkbar," an ironic contrast to Alex's jumping out the window here. Moreover, she sang a part from an opera that connects with Alex's own suicide attempt: "she's snuffing it with her throat cut, and the slovos are ŒBetter like this maybe.'" But the most ingenious mirror-image comes with the pairing of his jump and his ejaculation at the end of Part One, Chapter 3. The ejaculation: "Šwhen the music...rose to the top of its big highest tower, then, lying on my bed with glazzies tight shut and rookers behind my gulliver, I broke and spattered and cried aaaaaaah with the bliss of it." The jump: Alex 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, then I jumped," presumably to spatter on the sidewalk.

It is interesting to note that we do not learn F. Alexander's first name, much as we never learn Alex's last name. Alex starts referring to him as F. Alex, and their nominal connection makes them seem like a father-son pair. (Alex even refers to him as a "motherly veck," confusing the genders.) Burgess invites a Freudian reading here, since Alex, as the son, seemingly satisfied his Oedipal urges by having sex with F. Alex's wife, or Alex's "mother."

Part Three, Chapter 6 Summary:

Alex hits the sidewalk from his jump and, before he passes out, realizes that F. Alexander's friends had set it up for him to commit suicide so they could blame it on the Government. He comes to in a hospital. Bandaged considerably, he does not feel any sensation. A pretty nurse by his bed. Alex tries to tell her to sleep with him, but he cannot speak correctly because some teeth are missing. She leaves and Alex quickly falls asleep again, though he is sure the nurse has brought back doctors to look at him.

Alex wakes up later to find F. Alexander's friends in his room. They inform Alex that he has destroyed the Government's chances for re-election. Alex tries to tell them off for using him, but he cannot speak the words. They show him newspaper clippings that depict Alex as a victim and the Government as a murderer. The nurse ushers the men out so they will not excite Alex.

Alex falls asleep and has several dreams about violence and sex, but he does not feel sick. He wakes up and finds his parents there. They apologize for helping drive him to suicide, and tell him Joe got beaten up by the police and went home. They ask him to live at home again, and when he says he will consider it, his mother cries. Alex threatens to hurt her if she does not stop, and he feels better saying so. He tells his father that if he lives at home, he will be the boss; his father agrees, and his parents leave. Alex asks the nurse if the doctors have been tinkering with his head, but he receives an elusive answer.

A few days later, doctors test Alex by showing him pictures and asking him what he thinks. He has violent and sexual reactions, and the doctors tell him he is cured. It appears that they have reconditioned him and reversed the effects of Ludovico's Technique while he was unconscious.

He recuperates for a while. One day, the Minister of the Interior visits, accompanied by the press. He shakes Alex's hand. The Minister encourages Alex to call F. Alexander's group his enemies. The Minister informs Alex that after F. Alexander "'formed this idea'" that Alex had raped and killed his wife, he became a menace and was put away for his and Alex's protection. He says Alex will be rewarded for "'helping us.'" The reporters take pictures of the two smiling, and the Minister gives Alex a stereo as a present. Alex asks for them to play Beethoven's Ninth, and everyone clears out while he listens. He signs something without knowing or caring what it is, and imagines cutting the face of the whole world with his razor while he listens. "'I was cured all right,'" he thinks.


Alex's free will is returned to him - or so Burgess would have the reader believe. It is true that Alex is "cured" and can again enjoy violence, not to mention Beethoven. His dream of his body's being drained of dirty water and refilled with clean water represents this curative transformation (an ironic one, of course, since Alex has lost his "clean" feelings and is back to his "dirty," violent ways).

However, Alex does not have complete free will. The Government uses him as a pawn, just as F. Alexander's group did. The setup even resembles the Government's previous treatment of Alex through Ludovico's Technique; he is helplessly confined to a bed, just as he was helplessly confined to the chair in the other hospital. Moreover, Alex continues to do things without thinking. He "smile[s] like bezoomny without thinking" for the camerawith the Minister - another sinister use of mass media - and carelessly signs something for the Government.

In a broader sense, Alex never thinks about any of his actions. In much the same way that he never expresses remorse for his violent past, he hardly considers why he performs violent acts - he knows only that it gives him pleasure. The major idea behind A Clockwork Orange is that the ability to choose makes one human, and that goodness is not authentic without free will. But Alex did not choose evil; he was born with it, like Original Sin. Only by dint of the Government's actions has he regained his reflexive taste for evil, suggesting his desires will remain mechanical.

The chapter ends on a pessimistic note as we learn that F. Alexander has been imprisoned, and the oppressive Government remains in power. Much to Burgess's chagrin, the American edition of his novel, and Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of it, omitted the final 21st chapter, leaving readers and viewers with this most un-horrorshow of endings.

Part Three, Chapter 7 Summary:

Alex sits in the Korova Milkbar and asks his three friends, Len, Rick, and Bully, "'What's it going to be then, eh?'" Alex is the leader of the gang, being famous, the oldest, and having the best job in the National Gramodisc Archives. Alex is bored, as he often is now, and wants to go. He punches a babbling addict before they go.

Outside, Alex gives the others permission to beat up an old man. They go to a bar and are about to buy drinks for the old women there, but Alex does not want to; he feels more like keeping his money these days for himself. Still, he puts in his money, and when he does he accidentally puts in a picture of a baby he clipped from a newspaper. The others laugh and he rips up the photograph. Alex calls them babies for spending all their time beating up others. He feels sick when he sees his beer and pours it out, then says he is going home. Bully, trying to take over as leader, says they will postpone their scheduled robbery; Alex tells them to carry on without him.

Alex leaves and walks through the streets alone. He reflects on the fighting between hooligans and the police, and wonders why he does not care about it so much anymore. His recent appreciation for more romantic, and less violent, classical pieces also confuses him. He wants some tea, and has an image of himself as an old man. At a coffee shop filled with harmless people, he sees a well-dressed Pete with, Alex is shocked to discover, his wife. He describes their middle-class life and invites Alex to see them sometime. They leave for a party.

Alex thinks that, at 18, perhaps he has gotten too old for crime, and compares himself to artists who were accomplished by his age. He imagines himself coming home from work to a woman and a baby boy. He thinks that youth must eventually go, since youth is like being a wind-up toy of sorts. He will explain this to his son, but he knows his son will not understand and will do what he did; and so it will go, round and round, like God turning an orange in his hands.

Alex resolves to find a wife. He blames his actions on his youth. He bids adieu to his audience.


Alex finally comes of age. He casts off his violent, immature past and embraces a peaceful, mature, middle-class lifestyle. The most important thing about this transition, as opposed to his previous two reversals, is that he willfully chooses to change. The thematic mantra of the novel is that the ability to choose defines humanity, but perhaps a more accurate definition is that the ability to choose defines adulthood. Youth, as Alex's images describe, is mechanical and deterministic. Youth functions like a mechanical, clockwork wind-up toy, and acts according to the determinism of God, who spins the orange that is earth. Only those who have seen enough of life to make informed choices can claim free will and escape from the fate of being a clockwork orange. Burgess chose Alex's maturation to come in the 21st chapter, since 21 used to be the voting age in Britain and is otherwise considered the rite of passage into adulthood. With it comes the title of adulthood and, though Alex is only 18 as A Clockwork Orange ends, his experience-packed life has sped him to that destination - a destination reached only through his own free will.

It is fitting that the crowning achievement of Alex's maturation is his desire to have a son. He is now ready to break free from the Oedipal relationship he had with F. Alexander, a substitute father-figure for his own effete father. However, Alex notes that his son will probably act rashly as a youth, as well; Burgess reminds us that Original Sin never goes away, but free will can be stronger.