A Clockwork Orange: Novel Summary: Part 3, Chapter 4

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Badly beaten and dripping with icy rain, Alex walks through the dark until he reaches a little cottage with HOME written on its gate. He goes to the door for help and is invited inside. Once inside, he recognizes the man as the writer he and his friends had terrorized on their “surprise visit” two years before. Luckily, he thinks, the writer will not remember him as he and his friends wore masks. Hearing that Alex has been beaten up by the police, the writer treats him with great sympathy, calling him “a victim of the modern age.” He offers Alex a warm bath and a meal, then says that he recognizes Alex from the newspaper. The writer, whom we know previously to be an anti-government activist, believes it to be Providence that has brought Alex to him, and asks whether Alex has heard of him before. Alex, not wanting to give anything away, says that he’s heard of, but not read, the writer’s work A Clockwork Orange.

 

Over a meal, Alex tells his host how he came to be in prison, though he minimizes his blame in the death of the cat lady, saying that she died of a heart attack. The writer is particularly interested when Alex speaks of being chosen for the Ludovico Technique. Alex tells him all about it, and the writer listens eagerly, concluding that Alex’s punishment has been all out of proportion and that he has been turned into “something other than a human being…a little machine capable only of good.” The writer adds that he understands the business about the “marginal conditionings,” that is, the fact that music and love, literature and art, all are now a source of pain instead of pleasure.

 

The writer then concludes that “A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man,” echoing the words of the prison chaplain. He tells Alex that he can be used to help dislodge the government who did this to him. Appearing lost in thought, he then apologizes for wiping the same plate he’d wiped before, saying that his wife used to handle all the domestic chores. Alex is interested to know what happened to his wife, remembering her very well. The writer reveals that she died as a consequence of being raped and beaten.

 

Remembering the violent events of that long-ago “surprise visit,” Alex feels ill. The writer pities him and tells him to go to bed.

 

Analysis of Part 3, Chapter 4

The events of the book continue to repeat themselves in reverse. Alex comes to the “HOME” cottage this time as a victim in genuine need of help, whereas in part one, he had been a brutal victimizer whose pleas for help were only a ruse. Significantly, Alex has no problem accepting the help of a man whose life he has practically destroyed. He has no feelings of guilt, even upon learning that the writer’s wife died as a result of the brutal rape and beating he and his droogs delivered. His illness at the recollection of her rape is only due to his conditioning; he still has no genuine remorse or sympathy for his victims’ suffering.

 

As we learned the first time we met him, the writer is a political dissident. He is particularly concerned with Alex’s situation because it so perfectly exemplifies what he has been fighting against; that is, the dehumanization of society by the repressive government. The writer treats Alex with great sympathy, but he clearly has a political agenda of his own. Alex, so recently a tool of the government, will now be used as a tool to supplant it.

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