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

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Wandering back onto the street, Alex decides to visit the disc-bootick for some music. The store seems taken over by young teens listening to horrible pop songs, and when he asks the clerk for Mozart’s Symphony Number Forty, the teens mock him and the clerk gives him the wrong piece of music. When Alex actually listens to the music, he feels so ill that he must rush out of the store immediately. He realizes that any music that arouses the emotions will now trigger his automatic response of feeling sick.

 

Alex staggers out of the shop and straight to the Korova Milkbar, where he orders a “Milk, plus, large.” After drinking the drugged milk, he has a vision of being free from his body, joining God and all the angels and saints up in heaven. Then all the figures shake their heads as if to say “No, not yet,” and he comes crashing down to reality. Alex decides what he must do is commit suicide.

 

Since any violence makes Alex ill, he thinks it would be impossible to kill himself in a violent manner. He must find a peaceful way to die. He heads for the Public Biblio, or library, to check out some books on suicide. There in the library, he finds himself repulsed by all the medical books. He then turns to the Bible, thinking it will give him comfort, but finds that it too makes him sick, with its images of violent acts. When another patron, an old man, asks him what is wrong, Alex confesses that he wants to kill himself. A second man overhears their conversation. It is the schoolteacher-type man whom Alex and his droogs attacked in the first part of the novel. Alex and the man recognize each other at the same moment. He makes a move to leave, but old man cries out to the other old people in the reading room, and soon they have circled him and are clawing at him, taking out the revenge of the old on the young. The violence makes him so ill that Alex is unable to fight back, even to struggle free. An attendant appears and Alex begs him to call the police. The old men cry that they will kill Alex. At last, the police arrive to break up the fight.

 

Analysis of Part 3, Chapter 2

Everything that happened in Part 1 of the novel now appears to be happening in reverse in Part 3, and Alex experiences a complete reversal of fortunes, as those he hurt in the first part of the novel now turn on him in revenge. No longer the pain-inflicting victimizer; Alex is now the suffering victim. Once he rejoiced to music; now it makes him ill. The young people with their pop music jeer and mock at him, as he had looked down upon and victimized the little pop-music-loving girls he met at the shop in the beginning of the novel. At the milkbar, Alex becomes one of the supposedly “cowardly” people he once taunted, tripping away on hallucinogenics. Now, rather than wreak violence on others, he wants to turn it on himself. And finally, at the library, the action has come full circle when the old have their revenge against the young. This time, instead of running from the police, Alex begs for their protection.

 

Alex’s dream, in which he is denied admission to heaven, is symbolic of his place in life now. As the chaplain put it, he is outcast and “beyond the reach of the power of prayer.” Deprived of his ability to feel strong emotions, Alex cannot reach heavenly heights; he cannot rise above the misery of life for any longer than a few tawdry moments while drinking drugged milk. Naturally, this state of estrangement from the divine pushes Alex toward suicide.

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