A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Alex and his entourage tear up the city and countryside, taking sheer joy engaging in ultra-violent crimes like mugging, robbery, gang fights, grand theft auto, vandalism, rape, and murder. He and his criminal friends represent the violent "modern youth" that threaten the stability of the State.
Alex and his entourage's crimes set the scene for the book. The raping and pillaging show just how heartlessly brutal and evil these teens are. We also get tuned in to just what a problem these "modern youth" like Alex and the gang can be to the State.
Dim and Georgie, unhappy with Alex's assertion of arrogant authority over the group, challenge his leadership. The three get in a fight.
As a naturally aggressive alpha-male, Alex likes to assert his authority and leadership over his friends. But when Alex punches Dim for being "annoying," Dim and Georgie speak out against Alex's authority. A fight ensues and, voila, we have "conflict."
Alex runs into trouble trying to assert his manhood in the Manse "job." The police arrive just as Alex is temporarily blinded by Dim, who's giving payback to Alex for beating him up earlier in the night.
It gets complicated. Alex, rendered a bit insecure by Dim and Georgie's opposition to this authority, wants to show off a little bit, by playing "Big Man on Campus" at the cat-lady's mansion. Little does he know, though, that cats are his bad luck charm. The cat-lady – before she gets beaten to death by Alex, of course – calls the police. And just as Alex is scrambling to get out of the mansion, he meets Dim, chain in hand. What goes around comes around, and Dim whacks Alex in the eye with his chain – payback style. Alex is temporarily blinded and therefore immobile, making him an easy capture for the police.
Alex is thrown into jail for fourteen years. Two years into his sentence, Alex kills another prisoner and is chosen to be the first subject to undergo the Reclamation Treatment employing the Ludovico's Technique – still in its experimental stage.
Never would we have thought that this droog would be thrown into jail. He definitely deserved it, though. And he definitely needs it. Of course, the killing of his cellmate, while uncalled for, doesn't really surprise us. As Alex himself notes, his new cellmate marked a kind of new beginning and hope for him – and that suggests "climax" to us.
Alex gets discharged from prison a half-person, now unable to commit a crime. His past quickly catches up with him as he suffers beatings at the hands of past victims and ex-friends.
What's it going to be then, eh? In other words, what will Alex do now that he's out of jail? Unable to even think of violence, how will he defend himself against the rest of the criminals on the street? These questions make this stage totally suspenseful.
Alex gets caught up in F. Alexander's political agenda, which aims at overthrowing the current Government. Alex almost dies in a rather complicated way.
With all the violence over with in this book, we're now onto "falling action." Alex is left to die in the snow; he stumbles upon a cottage in the country; the inhabitant of the cottage is a political dissident; he wants to incorporate Alex into his plans against the Government.
Restored to his old self again, Alex runs into an old friend, Pete, who is now happily married and enjoying his life. Inspired by Pete's apparent satisfaction with his life, Alex also aspires to lead a "normal" life, and looks forward to a wife and a son.
Seemingly immediate, this transformation Alex goes through is not necessarily instantaneous. A nice transition from violent, unthinking youth to calm, thoughtful adult (he turned 18 not so long ago), Alex provides us with a nice conclusion to an otherwise unsettling story.