A Clockwork Orange: Novel Summary: Part 1, Chapter 7

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His face bruised and swollen, Alex is brought to the police station and dragged into a bright white “cantora,” or office, where he is surrounded by four officers and a police chief. Alex refuses to speak to them without a lawyer, saying, “I know the law, you bastards.” The chief replies, “Righty right, boys, we’ll start off by showing him that we know the law, too, but that knowing the law isn’t everything.” At this, an officer punches Alex in the stomach as the police chief looks on. Alex retaliates by kicking the officer in the shin. The officers then take turns beating him until he throws up on the floor and is made to clean up his own vomit.

 

P. R. Deltoid comes to see Alex. Alex, in tears, asks Deltoid to speak up for him in court the next day. Deltoid coldly responds that he will speak, all right. Before leaving, he leans over and spits in Alex’s face. A shocked Alex wipes his face and repeats “Thank you, sir, thank you very much, sir.”

 

Alex reflects that if the police are on the side of the Good, he’s glad to be on the side of bad. He decides that if the police want him to sign a confession, he’ll spill it all. He dictates page after page of confessions, detailing his ultra-violence, stealing (“crasting”), fighting (“dratsing”), and raping (“the old in-out in-out”), being sure to implicate his droogs in the story.

 

Having delivered his confession, Alex is led off to a cell where he is locked up with ten or twelve other prisoners, most of them drunk and disgusting. Two prisoners show sexual interest in Alex, who is forced to fight them off. Seeing that all the beds in the overcrowded cell are occupied, Alex heaves a drunk man out of an upper bunk and throws himself down to sleep. He has a beautiful dream of a bucolic place, where a goat with a man’s face plays a flute. Beethoven rises up like the sun, and Alex dreams he can hear the Ninth being played, with the words mixed up. He is awakened by a police officer with a long stick, who tells him he has “real lovely news.” Alex is led down in front of the police chief and told that the woman he attacked has died. Alex will now be charged with murder.

 

Analysis of Part 1, Chapter 7

In this chapter, Burgess continues to depict the authorities as being just as brutal and sadistic as Alex and his friends, and with no more respect for the law. The prison conditions are terrible, encouraging even more fighting and violence. Since the authority figures are so cruel, good and evil are mixed up and the reader becomes confused about which side to be on. Alex’s behavior takes on a political significance, as it represents a rebellion against the oppressive Establishment. Still, most readers would have a hard time rooting for Alex.

 

Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is featured again in this chapter, in Alex’s dream. “Ode to Joy” was a poem written by Frederich von Schiller in 1785. In 1824, Beethoven set the poem to music in the fourth and final movement of his Ninth Symphony. The real lyrics of the chorus (translated from the original German) are as follows: “Joy, thou glorious spark of heaven, / Daughter of Elysium, / Drunk with fire, we enter / Thy heavenly sanctuary.” Elysium, or the Elysian Fields, is that part of the underworld, in Greek mythology, reserved for heroes and virtuous people. In Alex’s dream, the words of the ode are changed to fit his circumstances. He doesn’t belong in Elysium; he’s being tossed out of that paradise and condemned to hell to pay for his sins.

 

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