A Clockwork Orange: Novel Summary: Part 3, Chapter 5

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Alex awakens from a good sleep and smells breakfast below. Wishing to know the name of this kind “motherly” soul who has taken him in, he searches the bookshelves for a copy of A Clockwork Orange. The writer’s name is F. Alexander. Alex skims through the book, finding it difficult to follow. The gist of the book is that all people nowadays were being turned into machines, when they were actually more a natural growth like a fruit in God’s orchard, which he needed to quench his thirsty love. Alex thinks the book sounds crazy and worries that perhaps F. Alexander is insane.

 

Over breakfast, F. Alexander informs Alex that he’s been on the phone with various people and that he thinks Alex can be a “very potent weapon” in ensuring that the government does not win the forthcoming election. He explains, using big words that Alex can’t understand, that if the government is not stopped, it will soon become fully totalitarian. Alex can stop them because he is a living witness to the government’s diabolical plans. F. Alexander explains that he’s written an article about Alex’s experience, which will come out in the newspaper with Alex’s picture.

 

Alex still doesn’t understand why F. Alexander is so strongly against the government. As the writer launches into an impassioned diatribe about how he is not a partisan man, just one who values liberty, Alex thinks that he truly has gone mad. He stops F. Alexander to ask what will become of him. Will he have a normal life again, and be able to listen to music without being sick? The writer has not thought about that.

 

F. Alexander asks Alex to come and read the article he’s prepared about the boy’s experiences. When Alex says that the article is “Real horrorshow,” F. Alexander looks at him suspiciously. Alex explains that it’s just nadsat talk, which all the teens use.

 

Three friends of F. Alexander’s arrive, Z. Dolin, Rubenstein, and D. B. da Silva. The men discuss how they will use Alex for their cause, describing him as a “superb device.” Alex is annoyed when Dolin suggests that he could be made to look “even iller and zombyish…. Anything for the cause.” He insists that the men tell him what is in this for him, and whether he will ever be normal again. He is only told that he will be exhibited at public meetings and will be a “martyr for the cause of Liberty.” This is not enough for Alex, who insists that he is not dim and will not be used.

 

Hearing Alex talk, F. Alexander has been growing more and more certain that he’s met him somewhere before. When Alex says the word dim, F. Alexander recalls the name “Dim” from the night of the attack. He begins to make the connection, although he’s still not certain. With madness in his eyes, F. Alexander says that if it were Alex, he’d tear him apart. Alex, realizing that he is now in danger, runs upstairs to get his clothes on and leave, but the men stop him, and he agrees to stay and do what they require. 

 

The men bring Alex to an empty apartment where he is to rest. Before they leave, Z. Dolin asks Alex whether he had anything to do with the tragedy in F. Alexander’s past. Alex says he has paid for what he did and for all that his friends did as well. Alex collapses on the bed and drifts off to sleep, his head full of thoughts.

 

When Alex wakes up, he hears loud music coming through the walls. Although he is at first delighted and joyful, his conditioned response kicks in and he becomes violently ill, screaming for the music to be turned off. He tries to escape, but the door of the apartment has been locked from the outside. Desperate, he spies the message DEATH TO THE GOVERNMENT on a pamphlet. The word DEATH jumps out at him. He runs to the window and leaps out, hoping to end his life.

 

Analysis of Part 3, Chapter 5

Initially a sympathetic character, the writer F. Alexander is slowly revealed to be somewhat of a zealot. He seems to care about Alex, but his real concern is for “the cause,” for which all individuals should be prepared to martyr themselves. F. Alexander’s friends similarly see Alex as a tool for the cause, with no real regard for what is to happen to him. After learning that Alex was responsible for the crime against F. Alexander, they decide that the best way to use the young criminal is by driving him to suicide. It is unclear whether they would have gone to this extreme had he not admitted to the crime; possibly they would have martyred him anyway, since they were willing to do all for “the cause.”

 

The events of this chapter are, again, reversals of what has gone before. Alex and his droogs used F. Alexander and his wife as objects for their pleasure; now F. Alexander and his droogs will use Alex as an object for their cause. Whereas on that long-ago night Alex “broke and spattered” into orgasm while listening to music, enjoying the height of pleasure, tonight he breaks and spatters on the pavement, in the height of despair. His victims gain their revenge, and as much as he made others suffer before, Alex now must suffer.  

 

The curiously parallel names of Alex and F. Alexander invite a psychoanalytic reading of the text. Burgess likely chose the name F. Alexander after the neo-Freudian psychologist Franz Alexander, considered the founder of psychoanalytic criminology. In the novel, however, the “F” may stand for “father,” as F. Alexander serves as a sort of father figure for the younger boy. Their relationship has Freudian overtones, since Alex raped the wife of his father figure, seemingly fulfilling his Oedipal urges to sleep with his own mother.

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