Pang's Reviews > A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
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's review
Nov 04, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club
Read from October 04 to November 04, 2011

As one of my friends said, "This book is f@$#-up!"

The story was of Alex, a young man of 16 (I believe) when it began, who had violent tendency and instigated numerous violent crimes with his "droogs." His troubles really started when he had heard about a rich, old lady and planned to rob her. The robbery didn't go as smoothly as Alex had hope; that the old lady gave all her fighting power against him. Things started to go really south for Alex, so he hit her as he was trying to escape. It turned out that his posse had set him up. The old lady ended up dead, so Alex went to jail. He undergone "this new like treatments that gets you out of prison in no time at all and makes sure that you never get back in again (92)." The experiment, Ludovico's Technique, involved him getting an injection and being wheeled off to a room where he was physically forced to watch violent films. Eventually Alex started to repulse all violent acts, even if they were being committed toward him. This, of course, deemed that he was "cured" and was now "good."

I must admit that I didn't know much about the book, besides that it was one of the classics, before I started reading it. I'd never seen the movie version either. It took a long time to get into the book because of the writing. I actually stopped reading it a while before picking it back up again, then the pace went by faster. I was so disgusted and abhorred by Alex's violence in the beginning, but I found myself feeling a little sorry for him as he was being tortured. When he was being mistreated after his release, I continued to feel sorry for him though I also thought to myself that he was getting what he deserve. What goes around comes around, as they say. But, as I was reading, I couldn't really guess how the story would end. When F. Alexander was on the verge of figuring out who Alex was, I thought for sure that he's a deadman. Burgess surprised me by not going in that direction. So when Alex jumped off the building and survived and "cured," I thought "I'll be darn." In the end you just couldn't force a man to be good.

A Clockwork Orange is meant to stand for "the application of a mechanistic morality to a living organism oozing with juice and sweetness." This book is a question of morality: should "good" be forced upon you? Burgess argued that young people would eventually grow out of this "bad" stage, as Alex had in the last chapter (which I didn't care much for it though I get why Burgess insisted on reinstating it for the American version.)
The question is whether such a technique can really make a man good. Goodness comes from within, 665321. Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.


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