Clockwork Orange

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"A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man."—Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange is a novel about moral choice and free will. Alex's story shows what happens when an individual's right to choose is robbed for the good of society. The first and last chapters place Alex in more or less the same physical situation but his ability to exercise free will leads him to diametrically opposite choices—good versus evil. The phrase, "what's it going to be then, eh?," echoes throughout the book; only at the end of the novel is the moral metamorphosis complete and Alex is finally able to answer the question, and by doing so affirms his freedom of choice. The capacity to choose freely is the attribute that distinguishes humans from robots; thus the possibility of true and heartfelt redemption remains open even to the most hardened criminal. A Clockwork Orange is a parable that reflects the Christian concept of sin followed by redemption. Alex's final and free choice of the good, by leaving behind the violence he had embraced in his youth, brings him to a higher moral level than the forced docility of his conditioning, which severed his ability to choose and grow up.

The question, "what's it going to be then, eh," is asked at the beginning of each section of the novel. In the first and third part it is asked by Alex, but in the second part it is asked by the prison chaplain. The answer does not come until the end of the novel when Alex grows up and exercises his ability to choose. He progresses to become a responsible and discriminating individual, escaping the clockwork that binds the rest of society. A Clockwork Orange opens with Alex and his buddies outside the Korova Milkbar deciding what they were going to do for the evening. Alex acts on his impulses to do evil. He is driven by cause and effect relationships. When Alex wants something, he simply goes out and gets it. If he needs money, he steals it; if he wants to let out his aggression, he beats people...
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