LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – One More Thought on Structure

As is my method, after finishing Burgess’ novel I sought further insight via lit reviews online.  One thing (among several) I missed was the apparent significance of the musical arrangement style used in many of the phrasings and structure of the text.

Overall, it was pretty straight linear narrative, following a timeline from here to there, presented in three sections of seven chapters each.  Each section flowed one from the other, separated by Alex’s escapades, his time in prison and rehabilitation procedure and then his freedom, and in the third, his life changes as impacted by the prior two years covered in the previous sections.

In drawing a story arc, I would claim that it steadily rises, plots rising in tension until he is caught.  But that, I do not feel, is the climax.  I would think that it perhaps spikes with each of his acts as they worsen in evil, the getting caught, the incarceration, the possibility of freedom, the rehab procedure, the freedom, the being turned away from his home, the abduction by the rebellion, and the attempt at suicide.  There, I would think, is the major climax, brought about as his freedom of choice to perform this one act that is the only violence that he can hope to accomplish–one against himself. 

The following sequence of his hospitalization, his return of free will, may indeed be considered an anti-climax.  From there, we get another dose as he changes and decides to leave his old ways behind.  Both areas, and perhaps the suicide decision as well, are offered as resolutions to the story.  Yet Burgess has carried it out to a further, major change in the character’s life.  Even so, this final resolution, Alex thinking of finding a wife and having a son, has been left open as to the ultimate future for Alex, as well as the future of society itself.

Unanswered questions; the best form of unresolved resolution in fiction, if not in life.

This entry was posted in LITERATURE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to LITERATURE: A Clockwork Orange – One More Thought on Structure

  1. creechman says:

    You are better than any literary class I skipped in college.

    Turn your attention to soap operas for a break from classics. How do writers keep stories seemlessly flowing? Think about that challenge. No “normal” arc.

  2. susan says:

    So I suppose that means I’m totally useless, or maybe one step above, since if you weren’t there you got nothing out of them.

    Can’t take a break from the “classics.” There are over a hundred of them sitting there on the hearth (and close by). The last McCarthy novel I did had one of the most challenging structures I’ve come across since Faulkner; three characters coming at each other through different periods of time. How did he keep it flowing? Never stopped long enough to figure it out.

Comments are closed.