A Clockwork Orange: Novel Summary: Part 1, Chapter 6

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The gang heads to the part of the city known as Oldtown, location of the home they intend to rob. Peering in the window, they see the mansion’s owner, an old woman, setting out milk for her many cats. Alex rings the bell and, just as he did the night before, lies that his friend is ill and he needs to use the phone. The woman refuses to open, believing this is a trick to get her to buy something. Alex spies a window above the door, and has Dim boost him up so he can climb into the house.

 

Once inside, Alex plans to “perform the old ultra-violence on the starry ptitsa (old chick) and on her pusspots (cats) if need be” and then take everything that looks valuable out to his friends, proving that he’s a good leader. Coming face to face with the woman, however, he is momentarily distracted by a sight of a bust of Beethoven, and trips on the cat bowls, giving the irate old woman a chance to beat him over the head with her cane. Amid the screeching and scratching of panicked cats, Alex knocks the woman down and kicks her in the face, then cracks her on the head with a silver statue, rendering her unconscious.

 

Hearing sirens and realizing that the woman must have called the police on him, Alex runs for the door. As he emerges, Dim strikes him down with a chain in revenge for Alex’s attack from the day before. Alex is found by the police, who are happy to have caught notorious “little Alex” at the scene of a crime. They beat him and force him into the car, laughing, as Alex complains, “with the heighth of like callousness.” Alex blames his droogs, saying it was all their fault for putting him up to the crime, but the police only laugh and strike him in the mouth. In any case, as he is aware, his friends will be back at the Duke of New York with an alibi from their baboochka pals.

 

Analysis of Part 1, Chapter 6

Alex has no sympathy for his victims, so it is highly ironic when he complains that the police treat him “with the heighth of callousness.” He fails to take any responsibility for his actions, protesting that his friends forced him to commit the crime. When he hears the sound of the ambulance, coming for the woman he’s beaten, he hopes the police are going after his friends. He has no thought or worry for the woman he’s beaten, only for himself. At the end of the chapter, Alex laments that he will not get “fair play” from the police. This is ironic as well, as he’s never played fair with anyone in his life. Furthermore, his idea of “fair” is for him not to be punished at all. Alex’s mind is still that of a self-centered child. Put in Freudian terms, he is all id, all instinctive drives and impulses demanding immediate gratification, with no superego, or conscience, to control and limit his behavior. Put another way, Alex is natural man, an innocent savage driven by instinct alone, who joyously partakes in lust and violence without thought for consequence.

 

Interestingly, it is Alex’s failure to control his impulses—he reaches out unthinkingly to the bust of Beethoven—that leads to his crucial error during the robbery. Also significantly, Alex is shown tripping over bowls of milk, perhaps symbolic of his infantile state.

 

The characterization of the police as brutal thugs begins in this chapter, and will continue in the next. They represent the State, which is repressive and corrupt. While we can hardly sympathize with Alex as the police beat him and drag him off, the police are clearly not “the good guys” either.

 

 

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