A Clockwork Orange: Novel Summary: Part 2, Chapter 6

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Part 2, Chapter 6

Alex continues to watch films, and his reaction to them becomes stronger. A film showing crimes that would not bother him before now provoke intense feelings of nausea. He is shown a film made by the Nazis during World War II, and has a similar reaction to it, when suddenly he notices the music that is used in the film—his beloved Beethoven. He screeches out that it’s a sin for the doctors to create in him an aversion to this music, as Beethoven has done nothing wrong. The doctors shrug, Dr. Branom commenting that perhaps this is just the punishment part of the experience.

 

The doctors explain to Alex the technique they are using, and Alex realizes for the first time that it is the injections (which he’d falsely been led to believe were vitamins) that are making him ill. He feels angry and betrayed by the lie. He begs them to at least leave the music out, but Dr. Brodsky notes that there is violence in music, as there is in the act of love, and there is no way to completely delimit everything. Along with his conditioned aversion to violence, Alex will have an aversion to classical music.

 

Alex changes his tune, telling the doctors that he is cured anyway, he knows that violence is wrong, and they needn’t take the treatment any further. The doctors shake their heads and tell him he has a long way to go. Alex protests that he can see that violence is wrong, he’s learned that it’s wrong. Dr. Brodsky laughs, commenting on “the heresy of the age of reason” that allows people to know what is right, but to do wrong regardless.

 

The next time the nurse tries to inject Alex, he resists, just to see what they will do. He is held down by four or five orderlies in white coats and given the injection, then wheeled to the theater. Each day the films are the same, but each day Alex feels worse and worse while viewing them. Then one day, Alex is given no injection and is allowed to walk to the theater. He reacts with the same nausea as ever, and realizes that the technique has worked, and that from now on, he will have the same reaction whenever he sees violent acts.

Back in his room, Alex attempts to escape. He lies to an orderly that he needs to see a doctor. Once outside the locked door, he turns to attack the orderly—but he finds he cannot. The orderly, realizing what Alex had planned, taunts him until he cries, and then hits him in the face. Alex is overcome with the feeling that it was better to get the hit than give it. He realizes to his shock that if the orderly had stayed, he would have turned the other cheek rather than try to defend himself.

 

Analysis of Part 2, Chapter 6

The Ludovico Technique has worked. Alex’s body now automatically feels nausea when he views violence. This is a conditioned emotional response, not stemming from any moral beliefs or deeply held feelings in Alex’s own mind. Alex in fact enjoys violence and wants to commit it, but he has been trained not to.

 

As Dr. Brodsky explains, the point is not to know intellectually that something is wrong. That’s the fallacy of the age of reason. The point is just to not do what is wrong. A person’s thoughts and feelings are irrelevant to the behaviorist. The behavior, the outcome, is what counts. If the outcome is that Alex will behave like a Christian, turning the other cheek when he is struck, who cares if he is not actually a Christian in his heart? This argument is especially appealing when it comes to true sociopaths, incorrigible criminals who resist all other methods of punishment and rehabilitation.

 

On the other hand, some negative consequences to Alex’s conditioning can be seen. First, he has been conditioned to avoid classical music as well as violence. As Dr. Brodsky explains, violence is a part of life and cannot be wholly separated from it. Elements of violence are present in many activities, including music and lovemaking—and one might add athletics, the arts, sciences, and great works of literature, including religious texts such as the Bible. Alex will lose his ability to appreciate any of these things, and in the process, lose a great deal of his humanity. Alex aptly identifies this loss of music as a “sin.” All throughout his wicked, sociopathic existence, Alex’s love of music has been the most human thing about him, his only connection to heavenly joy.

 

Another consequence of the conditioning is that Alex will lose the ability to defend himself if attacked, leaving him open to being victimized by others. The implications of a whole population being conditioned against violence are chilling. People would be immobilized, unable to rebel against an unjust government.

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