A Clockwork Orange (Film)

A Clockwork Orange (Film) Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8: Home ill, Mr. Deltoid - Chapter 14: Now a murderer


The next morning, Mum walks into the golden-walled hallway and knocks on Alex's door, reminding him that he'll be late for school. Alex claims he has a terrible headache and cannot go. His mother meekly reminds him that he hasn't been to school all week, but he easily convinces her to leave him alone. In their bright orange and yellow kitchen, Dad wonders where Alex "goes to work" in the evenings. Mum responds that he does odd jobs and helps people, or at least that is what he tells his parents.

Later, a combination lock turns and Alex steps out of his room, wearing only his underpants. The hand-held camera follows him as he lazily strolls into the living room. He notices a man sitting in his parents' bedroom. He leans cockily on their door and greets Mr. Deltoid, his post-corrective officer. Mr. Deltoid invites Alex to sit next to him, and warns him that he will end up in jail one day. Alex continues to play innocent and Mr. Deltoid pulls him onto the bed, telling him that Billy boy and his friends were admitted to the hospital the night before. Deltoid grabs Alex's crotch, but Alex laughs in his face and gets up, standing in the doorframe. Mr. Deltoid warns Alex to stay on the right side of the law, while absentmindedly sipping water from a glass with dentures in it. Alex offers his false promises of compliance from offscreen, and the camera stays on Mr. Deltoid as he realizes the contents of his water glass and gags.

Cut to the interior of a colorful record store. A blonde girl sucks on a phallic lollipop while gazing at the Top Ten hits list. Alex strolls into the frame, dressed in a royal purple coat and carrying his cane. The camera tracks backwards to keep him in frame as he strides confidently through the busy store. The score is a kitschy synth-pop version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy. Alex asks the clerk about a record he has ordered. While the clerk goes to check, Alex eyes the blonde girl and her brunette friend, also sucking on a phallic pop, flipping through the newest and hottest LPs. They eye him flirtatiously and he approches them, engaging in suggestive small talk. He invites them to his place to listen to his kind of music.

Cut back to Alex's bedroom, signaled by the triumphant opening of Rossini's William Tell Overture. This whole scene takes place in fast-motion, showing Alex and the two girls from the record store enter the room, disrobe, and engage in sexual acts with each other - in every different permutation and combination they can think of. The loud music is the only accompanying sound.

Cut to a wide shot of the lobby of Alex's building, where Pete, Georgie, and Dim sit on broken chairs and couches, waiting. Their leader, dressed for the night, ambles down the stairs. The droogs tell Alex that they are at his house because he did not show up at the "moloko" (milk bar). Alex explains that he was sleeping off his headache. Dim makes some silly remarks and giggles, so Alex walks towards him and sits on his lap threateningly. Georgie, however, informs Alex that there is a "new way", and chastises him for picking on Dim. Georgie admits that the droogs have decided that they want to increase the scale of their robberies - and tonight is the night for their "man-sized crast". Alex claims to be impressed at the droogs' initiative.

In a slow motion shot of the four droogs walking alongside the marina, Alex's voice-over illuminates what is going on behind his contemplative exterior. He is furious that Georgie and Dim have taken over planning the group's escapades. Inspired by the strains of Beethoven from a nearby stereo, Alex decides his course of action. He hits Georgie in the genitals with his cane, kicking him into the water. Dim pulls out his chain and rushes at Alex, who dodges him, sending Dim sailing into the water. Alex pulls a knife out of the top of his cane and offers his hand to Dim - but instead of helping Dim, Alex slashes his hand open with the blade. Horrified, Dim falls backwards into the water.

Cut to the four droogs sitting inside a restaurant, Dim with his hand bandaged up. Alex explains in his voice-over that he has reminded his underlings who is boss. Now, Alex says, everything is back to normal - his droogs agree, however unenthusiastically. Alex asks Georgie about his big idea for the night, and Georgie reluctantly shares.

Cut to a Cat Lady in a green leotard, doing yoga surrounded by her feline companions. Georgie's voiceover explains that this place is a remote 'health farm' that is shut down for the week, so Cat Lady is there alone. She is rich, and the place is filled with gold and jewels. Alex sounds interested. Still on the shot of Cat Lady, there is an urgent knock at the door. She hears Alex's voice, asking to use her telephone. She refuses. Outside the house, the four droogs creep around to the back, eyeing an open window. Cat Lady walks back to her living room with a nervous look on her face and calls the police, who decide to send a patrol car. Just as she hangs up the phone, Alex enters the room.

He jokingly notes her eclectic collection of sexual art, which includes a giant white sculpture of a penis. Cat Lady is aggressive, lunging at Alex angrily. She chases him around the room, eventually hitting him on the head with a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven. He throws her to the ground in retaliation and smashes the penis sculpture into her head, silencing her. The sound of police sirens echo in the distance and Alex scrambles out of the house. His three droogs are waiting outside the front door, and they smash a bottle of milk onto Alex's face, running away as he writhes on the ground, shrieking in pain.

Cut to a police station. In a close-up, Alex, who has a cut on his nose, defies the police officers, refusing to say a word unless his lawyer is present. However, they are not susceptible to his intimidation tactics and throw him to the ground. Meanwhile, Mr. Deltoid has arrived. The Inspector invites Mr. Deltoid into the interrogation room, where Alex is now bleeding from the mouth. Mr. Deltoid proclaims that it is the end of the line for him - he's not going to "help" Alex anymore, as Cat Lady has died. Alex tries to defend himself and blame his droogs for the Cat Lady's death, but his pleas fall on deaf ears. Mr. Deltoid, laughing, says, "you are now a murderer, little Alex!" The police even encourage Mr. Deltoid to hit Alex, but instead, he spits on Alex's bloody face.


In Stanley Kubrick's depiction, the streets of England in A Clockwork Orange are ruled by young hooligans, especially at night. In the late 1950s and early 1960s (when Anthony Burgess' novel was published), the rise of a violent youth culture was splashed across the British press. Mark Farnsworth writes, "A Clockwork Orange could only have ever been set in Britain. The fear of youth cults stretches from the Victorian Hooligan, to the post-war Teddy boy, Mods and Rockers, Skinheads and Punks, to the Football Casuals, and to today’s grime inspired Hoodies". Teddy boys were a British subculture of (mostly white) young men who dressed in Edwardian clothes and listened to American music. A subsection of Teddy boys formed violent gangs. In 1958, Teddy boys were implicated in The Notting Hill Race Riots, which arose from violent attacks against West Indian immigrants in the London neighborhood.

Youthful disillusionment with authority was - and will always be - a universal phenomenon. At the same time in America, students had started to rebel against involvement in the Vietnam War. In England where Kubrick, a noted Anglophile, lived and worked, "the Mod and Rocker riots... had marked the most recent manifestation of the class struggle" (McDougal 28). A Clockwork Orange, often categorized as a science fiction film, is no doubt a product of its time. Robert Kolker writes that in the world of A Clockwork Orange, which is supposed to take place in the not-so-distant future, many physical aspects of the "real world" remain unchanged, but the "body politic has gone awry". The film combines parallels to a specific era in history with attributes of a stylized imagined future where Totalitarianism has more completely gripped Britain. This leaning towards sci-fi helps to make the film relatable and understandable to contemporary audiences.

At the beginning of the film, Alex's adult victims are subject to the whims of their youthful counterparts. Alex comments that he finds the tramp disgusting, and beats him senseless because of the man's drunken weakness and old age. Mr. Alexander and his wife are naively trustworthy and then powerless when Alex and his friends come dancing through their front door, and similarly, Cat Lady, who nearly outsmarts Alex, is no physical match for the young hood. The tables only turn at the end of this section of the film - when the police easily discredit Alex's false pleas of innocence and Mr. Deltoid proudly spits in his young charge's face.

Meanwhile, the adults that are supposed to be looking out for Alex and guiding him are completely ineffective - driving the film towards satire. Stanley Kubrick called the characters surrounding Alex as "lesser people, and in some way, worse people" than the young criminal (Alpert). His parents are clueless, content to stay locked out of Alex's room - as if they don't even want to know what he is doing as long as it does not bother them. Then, Mr. Deltoid, Alex's correction officer, admonishes Alex while the young man is nearly naked, and makes advances towards him while lying on his parents' bed. The question then becomes - is Alex merely a product of his world, or is he a born "folk devil", (a term coined by sociologist Stanley Cohen to describe those who threaten the social order).

Roger Ebert does not believe that Alex is either, and in his review of the film, he writes, "Alex has not been made into a sadistic rapist by society, not by his parents, not by the police state, not by centralization and not by creeping fascism - but by the producer, director, and writer of this film - Stanley Kubrick." Ebert goes on to describe the multitude of ways that he believes Kubrick celebrates Alex's horrible actions. Film scholar Janet Staiger agrees, writing that Alex "is given too many rationales for his behavior (bad parents, bad friends, bad social workers)..." (MacDougal 49).

The famous Cat Lady sequence could serve as an example of Roger Ebert's accusations against Kubrick. As the Cat Lady swings a bust of Beethoven at Alex, trying to scare him out of her home, the camera stays on Alex as he dances around with the giant penis sculpture. "When he rams the penis sculpture into the Cat Lady, the viewer watches it from Alex's perspective, forced to assent in Alex's anger against the snobbery and privilege of an eccentric lady who sees a giant penis as art." (MacDougal 91).

Additionally, Kubrick's use of the wide-angle lens in this scene makes "the objects in the center of the screen look normal, but those on the edges tend to slant outward and upward" (Ebert). Therefore, like in the Korova Milk Bar scene that opens the film, Alex looks normal, but everything around him looks like a "crazy house of weird people out to get him." Cat Lady looks (and sounds) like a monster by the time Alex shoves the giant penis onto her head, and Kubrick's quick cutaway to a series of pop-art images dilutes the brutality of what Alex has just done - which Kubrick likely intended to mirror the detachment Alex feels towards his victims, but it also has the effect of shielding the viewer from the violent image and, some may argue, condoning it.