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Past Group Reads > A Clockwork Orange: Part 2

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message 1: by Jenn, moderator (new)

Jenn | 303 comments Mod
Discuss Part 2 here. No spoilers for the rest of the book please!


message 2: by Jenn, moderator (last edited May 05, 2014 05:55PM) (new)

Jenn | 303 comments Mod
I have to admit, this section was much better than the first. I'm glad I'm starting to find it interesting since it is the first book I have read with our group in several months. Good to be back!

Alex is in prison, where he seems to be doing fairly well. He has a job playing the radio at the chapel and has learned to work the system. All is good until he gets a new cell mate. After he gets the blame for this other prisoner's murder, it is decided that he will be "cured" using the Ludovico's Technique. Alex agrees easily, especially since he is told the treatment would only last a short time and after he would be completely free.

The treatment he undergoes is pretty horrific. After being injected with some sort of drug, he is strapped in a chair with his head held tightly facing forward and his eyelids held open so he has no choice but to watch the horrific films. Something in the drug makes hims feel sick as he watches detestable acts of violence, that normally he would have laughed at or even committed himself. As the torture continues each day, he seems to feel sicker and sicker to the point that even the thought of committing the smallest act of violence fills him with intense sickness and pain. This method is called 'association' in the psychological world.

Part 2 ends with a sort of demonstration to the other doctors, the Governor, and other important people just how "cured" he is. There is a debate among the audience about his choice. One person says, "He has no real choice has he? Self-interest, fear of physical pain, drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice." To this Dr. Brodsky replies, "We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime."

I may be about to launch an ethical debate here, but what do you think? Is it wrong to take away someone's choice even if it means completely preventing a murderer and rapist from ever committing another act of violence? Or was the doctor right in thinking that prison would never help him or others like him, and this was the only real solution? And do you think this really worked, or will it wear off in time and he'll just go back to his former ways?


message 3: by Kaycie (new)

Kaycie | 11 comments I think the point of this book is to spark an ethical debate!

I LOVED the quote from the chaplain: "It may not be nice to be good, little 6655321. It may be horrible to be good. And when I say that to you I realize how self-contradictory that sounds. I know I shall have many sleepless nights about this. What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some ways better than a man who has the good imposed upon him? Deep and hard questions…"

What a great quote! And hes right - deep and hard questions! I do think its better to choose than have something imposed on you, almost no matter the circumstances. What good is a society of "good" people, anyways, who are forced to be that way? As an example, do you want to be a woman in a society where men aren't raping you only because they would be ill or do you want to be a woman in a society where men respect women and therefore do not rape them?

And then you get into the questions of who decides what is good in these societies. Why is the doctors opinion of "good" the only one that will now count? There will always be things that people enjoy that will be considered "not good" by the society as a whole. And are people who can no longer enjoy the things that make their life worth living really the "good" that one wants in a society?

I know I have posed way more questions that I've provided an answer to, but its the conversations that are fun with this book. I personally think taking away people's freedom to choose may make a "good" society on the surface, but it won't be good internally. The man who would rape a woman still has no respect for her, even if he is not longer physically assaulting her. The society, therefore, has only been "fixed" on the outside.


message 4: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) I agree, Kaycle. A society that acts without free will is merely a society of robots.

Yes Jenn, you were right that I should stick with the book. This part is infinitely more interesting, though not exactly a walk in the park. I don't think that I'd ever feel compelled to read it again, though the questions that it poses are almost imponderable.


message 5: by Jenn, moderator (last edited May 07, 2014 01:42PM) (new)

Jenn | 303 comments Mod
I agree with you Kaycie. It is much better to be good by choice than by force.

I was thinking though, is our society really that different from Alex's? Doesn't fear of punishment force people to be "good"? If the law was taken away, and we truly did have complete free will, how many otherwise "good" people would commit horrible crimes simply because there is no fear of punishment?


message 6: by Kate (new)

Kate | 22 comments Hi all

I agree it's certainly a book to spark debate! I also think that it's best for someone to be given the option to behave, rather than forced too, however, being a high school teacher, I know it's not the reality in many cases. Like Kaycie said, in an ideal world, I think it's best for someone to chose not to behave badly because they respect others. However, the doctor (I think it was the doctor) throws a spanner in the works here when he says that Alex actually did make the choice to 'be forced' into it when he made the choice to commit those crimes.

Now I'm really intrigued how Alex is going to go in the outside world. I'm off to read. :)


message 7: by swwords (last edited May 16, 2014 11:44PM) (new)

swwords (-sww) | 19 comments ***Spoiler Alert***

Oh don't you feel sorry for Alex for first thinking that he'll get a good deal for agreeing to be experimented on.

And that last line in part 2 by prison Charlie I think says it all.


message 8: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 31 comments Kate wrote: "Hi all

I agree it's certainly a book to spark debate! I also think that it's best for someone to be given the option to behave, rather than forced too, however, being a high school teacher, I kno..."


I read this book a while ago so am not up on all the details, but agree that this is about making choices and balancing people's rights. Yes, Alex has the right to choose his behavior, but others have the right to be safe and not to be harassed/assaulted. We choose our behavior but have to live with the consequences - if I decide that I want to drive 90 mph in a convertible on a nice day, I have to take the punishment if I get stopped for speeding.

It would be great if everyone could do what they wanted, but the problem is that it often means infringing on someone else's right to do what they want. It's a balance and societies have to figure out where to draw the lines. It's interesting to look at changes in laws over time to see what was deemed unacceptable at different times. And to try to figure out under what conditions someone can no longer make their own decisions, whether it's because they have gone too far or whether it is part of the natural process - aging for example limits behaviors and choices.

Taking an non-violent example, an older neighbor has been deteriorating over the past several years but refuses to move into a facility that provides some care. He is also a hoarder and digs through the garbage - when he got sick and had to go to the hospital, the health department had to clean out his apartment because it was both unhealthy and unsafe for him and for us (it is an apartment building). You could say that they had no right to clean out his apartment, but on the other hand it was absolutely disgusting - the smell alone was overwhelming. Can his man really still make his own decisions or does he need intervention? We did not want him to lose his possessions or his home, but as people who share the space, we also didn't want to gag when we went into the hallway. Where do we as a society draw the line?

It is a frightening book but provokes great questions!


message 9: by Kate (new)

Kate | 22 comments Susan from MD wrote: "Kate wrote: "Hi all

I agree it's certainly a book to spark debate! I also think that it's best for someone to be given the option to behave, rather than forced too, however, being a high school t..."


Hi Susan

Your example about your elderly neighbour is an interesting one. You ask where we can draw the line (and I agree, it is very hard to draw that line because someone is always going to lose out - there is no win/win really), but I think each case has to be looked at individually. What I would like to say is that if the person responsible is causing danger or risks to the 'other', then the 'other' are in the right. In your example, I believe that the neighbour's hoarding was unfair to the rest of you, because it did affect you directly, so I think it was a good decision for it to be cleaned out, for the benefit of the majority and because health and safety issues were concerned.

However, I think what needs to be defined is the notion of 'danger' or 'risk' to the 'other'. Here, in Australia (like many other places, I am sure), we are often involved in the debate of women breastfeeding their babies in public (the baby and feeding 'area' covered, of course). Some people are completely offended by it. It's beneficial for mother and baby, yet some people classify it as a 'danger' to the other's psychological state.

There's definitely no straight forward answer, but an interesting discussion, nevertheless.


message 10: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Renini | 4 comments Jenn wrote: "I have to admit, this section was much better than the first. I'm glad I'm starting to find it interesting since it is the first book I have read with our group in several months. Good to be back!
..."


Great questions. I always ask...would the answers be different if the "cure" wasn't as bad. In other words, if there was a one-time painless procedure for "curing" or suppressing bad impulses, would we allow it? The overall result is the same: an otherwise bad person is still "bad," it's just that he/she doesn't vomit at the slightest provocation like Alex does.


message 11: by swwords (new)

swwords (-sww) | 19 comments *** BEWARE, SPOILER ALERT ***

Jenn wrote: "... is our society really that different from Alex's? Doesn't fear of punishment force people to be "good"? If the law was taken away, and we truly did have complete free will, how many otherwise "good" people would commit horrible crimes simply because there is no fear of punishment?"
Now that's got me thinking, though what I'm struggling with is where does the kudos to be bad fit in with all this? And then also considering:

Jospeh wrote: "... ...would the answers be different if the "cure" wasn't as bad. In other words, if there was a one-time painless procedure for "curing" or suppressing bad impulses, would we allow it?"

I got to thinking how do we know when someone is 'good', 'bad' or 'evil'? Yeah, I know that age old philosophical question that is not quite sure how to answer this. What I thought was funny about the novel was in the end Alex just grew out of it, so was any intervention needed in the first place?


message 12: by Phil (last edited May 22, 2014 04:51AM) (new)

Phil (lanark) Part two: i liked the comedy of Alex feeling sorry for himself and getting uppity about people treating him badly ("I have my rights"). So ... the Ludovico Technique and its morals. This, so far, is the core of the book (the violence of part 1 being there to show how irredeemable Alex and his kind are): how far is it right to *make* people be good and if they're made to be good, are they in fact still "good" and if it makes bad people behave well does it in fact matter that they're doing it out of compulsion and not out of "goodness"?

Maybe I'll have an opinion by the end of the book, but I found the priest's argument amusing, because (as Brodsky points out) what is God if not an internalised Ludovico Technique? Is being good because you're scared of going to hell any better than being good because you're scared of being sick?


message 13: by Dolores, co-moderator (new)

Dolores (dizzydee39) | 275 comments Mod
This book does bring out a lot of questions. I think that forcing someone to be good does not always turn out best because inside they still have the desire to be bad but are just being good to avoid certain consequences as Alex was. If you make choices and you choose to be good, then you will be good because of how you feel inside no matter what the consequences. Also, who makes the decision on what is good and bad? Should the government as in CO or should religion or should it be personal or depend on affecting other's rights? A lot can go into deciding this. And what is good/bad for some might not be good/bad for others as was brought out in a previous comment.


message 14: by swwords (new)

swwords (-sww) | 19 comments Phil wrote: "... how far is it right to *make* people be good and if they're made to be good, are they in fact still "good" and if it makes bad people behave well does it in fact matter that they're doing it out of compulsion and not out of "goodness"?"

Now that's a question and a half. Hmmm ... and see that:

i>Dolores wrote: If you make choices and you choose to be good, then you will be good because of how you feel inside no matter what the consequences."

Which could be a possible answer. As Dolores says CO raises a lot of questions, one of the things I like about this book is how it also illustrates it is not easy or simple to answer these questions. Will it ever be possible to find these answers? I'm not sure, maybe there needs to be another book about it ...


message 15: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I think the morality questions in this section are fascinating. It's not even so much as whether someone can be "cured" and "made good" but rather, to protect society from people we have already deemed to be "bad" (convicted criminals), do we, instead of overcrowding our prisons and having to deal with violence within, instead "imprison" them in an entirely new way, making them physically ill at the thought of their violence and preventing it as effectively (if not more) as locking them up? But are we degrading ourselves to their level by making them less than human, by making them grovel in an unnatural way, only doing good to make the bad feelings go away? Is that the same as the prison system? Very, very intriguing thoughts.


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