Study Guide

The Wanting Seed Part 3, Chapter 2

By Anthony Burgess

Part 3, Chapter 2

  • Tristram is now incarcerated in the Metropolitan Institute of Correction (Male), and, like many others, is slowly starving. Sounds like a party.
  • Tristram tries to convince his cellmate, Mr. Nesbit, to murder Derek once he is released. Mr. Nesbit refuses.
  • After Mr. Nesbit is released, Tristram gets a new cellmate—the unfrocked priest he once met in a Bristol pub.
  • The priest tells Tristram that he was arrested for delivering Mass, and that out in the free world, more and more people are turning back to religion.
  • As they talk, a message from the Governor comes through the prison loudspeaker.
  • The Governor states that he is about to read a prayer that is also being read across England in schools, State Health Services, offices, and factories. The priest is over the moon, until he hears the prayer itself.
  • Rather than praying to God (in any of His or Her or Its manifestations in major world religions), the Governor prays to the blight itself. Um, yeah…that's not how it's supposed to work.
  • The priest is horrified to hear that the government is praying to "the powers of evil" (3.2.28), but Tristram is delighted. He believes that the public turn towards religion is a sign of progress towards the next phase in his cyclical conception of history, and that the repressive police regimes will soon come to an end.