Why did the editor give Chapter 21 of A Clockwork Orange the axe? Was it because he wanted to leave the reader hanging? Or did he realize Americans hate sappy love story endings?
|Early 20th-Century Literature||Early 20th-Century British Literature|
|Themes||Fate and Free Will|
Language and Communication
Morality and Ethics
When Anthony Burgess wrote it. . .
. . .there were 21 chapters. . .
. . .arranged in three equal parts.
Then an American editor got a hold of it. . .
. . . and decided the 21st chapter had to go.
So, why did that last chapter get the ax? Could it be that our humble editor thought
the 21st chapter. . .
. . .with Alex seeing the light and changing his evil ways . . .
. . . wasn’t believable? Burgess argued otherwise; that “21”. . .
. . .was a symbol of Alex’s growth from boy to man.
But he lost the battle. . .
. . .and had to wait 24 years to get that last chapter back in the book.
Wonder how he celebrated. . . Anyway, maybe that cut had nothing to do with
an unbelievable ending. Maybe the editor just wanted a more powerful
ending. . .
. . .with an unreformed hero still obsessed with violence.
Maybe he thought it would pack a bigger punch. . .
. . .than any “happy” ending ever could.
We already have stories where the good guy triumphs…
Why not let the bad guy win this time? However, our humble editor might have liked
the idea of leaving the reader hanging. If he wanted to get people talking. . .
. . .and sell more books. . .
. . .leaving Alex’s future up in the air. . .
. . .might have been a pretty good way to do it.
So, why did the American version ditch that last chapter?
Was it because the editor thought Alex would never change. . .
. . .or because Americans hate tidy, happy endings. . .
. . .or because it was more fun to leave the reader hanging?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.