Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Transformation

By Anthony Burgess

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Part 2, Chapter 2

"Common criminals like this unsavoury crowd"--(that meant me, brothers, as well as the others, who were real prestoopnicks and treacherous with it)--"can best be dealt with on a purely curative basis. Kill the criminal reflex, that's all. Full implementation in a year's time. Punishment means nothing to them, you can see that. They enjoy their so-called punishment. They start murdering each other." (2.2.17)

This "curative" approach seeks to transform "common criminals" like Alex altogether, rendering them incapable of committing crimes.

"All right, all right," said this big veck. Then he turned to the Governor and said: "You can use him as a trail-blazer. He's young, bold, vicious. Brodsky will deal with him tomorrow and you can sit in and watch Brodsky. It works all right, don't worry about that. This vicious young hoodlum will be transformed out of all recognition." And those hard slovos, brothers, were like the beginning of my freedom. (2.2.20-21)

Alex initially looks forward to undergoing the Reclamation Treatment, hoping to beat the system. Little does he know that he'll be transformed – no, eliminated – entirely.

Part 2, Chapter 5
Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom

"You felt ill this afternoon," he said, "because you're getting better. When we're healthy we respond to the presence of the hateful with fear and nausea. You're becoming healthy, that's all. You'll be healthier still this time tomorrow." (2.5.13)

It is noteworthy here that Dr. Brodsky treats Alex as a sick being, needing to be transformed so that he might act normally or "humanly" towards violence and crime.

Part 2, Chapter 6

"Today, old friend, we are letting you walk." (2.6.28)

Here's Alex's first step towards being transformed by Ludovico's Technique. The "old friend" also suggests that the doctors are welcoming Alex back into "their world."

Part 2, Chapter 7

"Aha. At this stage, gentlemen, we introduce the subject himself. He is, as you will perceive, fit and well nourished. He comes straight from a night's sleep and a good breakfast, undrugged, unhypnotized. Tomorrow we send him with confidence out into the world again, as decent a lad as you would meet on a May morning, inclined to the kindly word and the helpful act. What a change is here, gentlemen, from the wretched hoodlum the State committed to unprofitable punishment some two years ago, unchanged after two years. Unchanged, do I say? Not quite. Prison taught him the false smile, the rubbed hands of hypocrisy, the fawning greased obsequious leer. Other vices it taught him, as well as confirming him in those he had long practiced before. But gentlemen, enough of words. Actions speak louder than. Action now. Observe, all." (2.7.2)

Alex has been so thoroughly transformed that the doctors (as well as the Government) will send him into the world with full "confidence." Do you suppose that a treatment program with a "curative" or "transformational" objective is superior to one that is merely exists for deterrence or restitution purposes?

That's what it's going to be then, brothers, as I come to the like end of this tale… I was young. But now as I end this story, brothers, I am not young, not no longer, oh no. Alex like growth up, oh yes. (2.7.57)

Not only has Alex finally answered the question that has appeared more than a dozen times throughout the book, but he has also definitively declared that he is young no longer. Wow.

Dr. Brodsky and Dr. Branom

"He will be your true Christian," Dr. Brodsky was creeching out, "ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the very heart at the thought even of killing a fly." And that was right, brothers, because when he said that I thought of killing a fly and felt just that tiny bit sick, but I pushed the sickness and pain back by thinking of the fly being fed with bits of sugar and looked after like a bleeding pet and all that cal. "Reclamation," he creeched. "Joy before the Angels of God."
"The point is," this Minister of the Inferior was saying real gromky, "that it works." (2.7.24-25)

Alex has been transformed into a Christian, or at least a person who ostensibly performs Christian-like deeds. What is the difference?

Part 3, Chapter 1

What it said underneath my picture was that here was the first graduate from the new State Institute for Reclamation of Criminal Types, cured of his criminal instincts in a fortnight only, now a good law-fearing citizen and all that cal. Then I viddied there was a very boastful article about this Ludovico's Technique and how clever the Government was and all that cal. Then there was another picture of some veck I thought I knew, and it was this Minister of the Inferior or Interior. It seemed that he had been doing a bit of boasting, looking forward to a nice crime-free era in which there would be no more fear of cowardly attacks from young hooligans and perverts and burglars and all that cal. (3.1.5)

The Government views Alex as having been transformed and cured of his criminal instincts. The deeper message here is that the Government is content with usurping the individual liberties of its constituents to achieve peace and stability for the State.

Part 3, Chapter 5

"And what do I get out of this? Do I get cured of the way I am? Do I find myself able to slooshy the old Choral Symphony without being sick once more? Can I live like a normal jeezny again?" (3.5.13)

All Alex truly wants is to be transformed back to his former state, so that he may enjoy classical music again.

Part 3, Chapter 6

"Deep hypnopaedia… you seem to be cured." (3.6.48)

Yet again, Alex has been transformed. But this time, he has been transformed – or rather, restored – back to his old self.

Part 3, Chapter 7

But what was the matter with me these days was that I didn't like care much. It was like something soft getting into me and I could not pony why. What I wanted these days I did not know. (3.7.32)

This is the first sign of Alex's future personal transformation. This passage shows just how discontent he is with the status quo. He is looking for more.

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