LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – Theme

Burgess has presented an outrageous future world, and pushed us into it where we stumble about wondering, what the hell happened?

There is a schism of wide proportion between the young generation of Alex’s contemporaries and the old, the starry ones that is just a parentage away.  These are the ones upon which the young feed, their elders.  Though we don’t have a clear picture that all Alex’s generation are this uncaring, this violent–though there seems to be places where they all meet and gather so it has become an established standard of sorts.  And maybe they’re not all that uncaring, but seeking a meaning to life that has come to be disregarded or merely taken for granted.  Screaming in the guise of repulsive behavior is often the response.  This, from Alex to visit by a school official who has come to his home to see why he isn’t in school and to supposedly warn him to keep on the straight and narrow:

But, brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the cause of badness is what turns me into a fine laughing malchick.  They don’t go into what is the cause of goodness, so why of the other shop?  If lewdies are good that’s because they like it, and I wouldn’t ever interfere with their pleasures, and so of the other shop.  And I was patronizing the other shop.  More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty.  But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they cannot allow the self.  And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?  I am serious with you, brothers, over this.  But what I do I do because I like to do.  (p. 46)

Alex’s worry it would appear, is that if he does not behave as he does he falls into society’s trap.

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3 Responses to LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – Theme

  1. Creechman says:


    I’m almost finished with “East of Eden.” What an amazing book by Mr. Steinbeck.

  2. David Thomas says:

    The younger generation will always be rebellious, but, as you said, they are not uncaring, just needy of attention.

    What incredible writing and rhythm by Burgess.

  3. susan says:

    Yes the writing here finds its own tune, especially as one gets involved and talks the talk, so to speak. There’s a definite mix of feelings that Alex is experiencing, and concerns about good and bad, God or none, are just some examples.

    Mark, I’ve got East of Eden on the hearth, but it’ll be some time before I can read it. Steinbeck has already set himself up there in my writer’s heart.

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