A Clockwork Orange: Novel Summary: Part 2, Chapter 3

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That same evening, Alex is brought before the Governor. The Governor does not approve of this new method of turning “the bad into the good”—he believes in traditional punishment, “an eye for an eye.” But he can do nothing about it, as the new Minister of the Interior has sent down his orders. Alex will be sent to Reclamation Treatment and will be out in two weeks, back into the free world. He tells Alex not to thank him, as this is far from being a reward.

Alex also meets with the chaplain, who likewise says that he does not approve of the treatment and begs Alex not to blame him. Alex, still certain that this is all a joke, glibly says that it will be nice to be good. The chaplain disagrees: “It may be horrible to be good…. What does God want?.... Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?” The chaplain says he will pray for Alex, then notes that Alex will soon be beyond the reach of prayer.

 

The next morning, Alex is brought to a new white building just beyond the prison wall, a place with a new, cold, hospital smell. There he meets Dr. Branom, who will assist Dr. Brodsky in administering Alex’s treatment. Alex immediately likes Dr. Branom, who has “horrorshow blue glazzies” and a smile filled with “shining white zoobies.” He is given pajamas, which to his delight are “the heighth of bedwear fashion,” a warm robe and slippers, and starts to think that he is really going to enjoy it there. Alex is even more delighted to find out that his “treatment” will consist of his watching films. Dr. Branom adds that he will get a shot in the arm after every meal. Alex asks if it will be vitamins, and Dr. Branom says that it will be “something like that.”

 

Lying back in bed with magazines, Alex feels he is in heaven. He thinks of what he will do when he gets out—perhaps get the old gang together, and this time be careful not to be caught. He has a laugh thinking of how innocent everyone is, believing that they can “cure” him with films.

 

After eating a lunch of roast beef and getting an injection in the arm, Alex starts to feel a bit weak. A male nurse pushes him off in a wheelchair.

 

Analysis of Part 2, Chapter 3

Alex enters the hospital sniffing around at all the new scents, an action that makes one think of an innocent animal about to be experimented on. He seems somewhat dehumanized be the experience of walking into the halls of science.

 

As noted, the Ludovico Technique rests on the ideas of radical behaviorism, described by B. F. Skinner in his writing, including Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity. To the radical behaviorist, there is no true free will. All human behavior is determined by the environment, to which a person reacts. Since a person is not really free, he or she cannot be held responsible for offenses or be punished for them. Punishment does not work. A person must be reconditioned to produce different behavior.

 

The Governor and the chaplain offer two different views that contrast with the philosophy behind the Ludovico Technique. The Governor takes the hard-line view of “an eye for an eye”—punishment in the style of the Old Testament. To him, sparing “brutal hooligans” appropriately brutal punishment seems fundamentally unjust. The chaplain believes in rehabilitation, and strives to guide the inmates to the right path of spiritual growth. As the chaplain points out, the idea that bad behavior can be “cured” through scientific means runs completely against the traditional Christian concept of sin and redemption, whereby the sinner must recognize his own wrongdoing and repent for it, making a conscious choice to follow the righteous path.

 

In A Clockwork Orange, Burgess presents an ethical question: If it is possible to condition the sin out of Alex, is it right to do so? Even considering that Alex might never change for the better on his own, is it fair to deny him that chance? Burgess would say definitely not. Writing in his introduction to the novel in 1986, he stated that free will is what makes us human. Without it, a person is “in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or … the Almighty State.”

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