A Clockwork Orange: Violence and Corruption Alex, the fifteen year old narrator of Anthony Burgess's novel, A Clockwork Orange, lives in a society where violence reigns. This novel has a very direct nature, and is often blunt to the point of offense, but this makes it more powerful and helps to further its point. This point is that everyone is out for themselves, whether they be the police, government or citizens of this society. In this book, the police can be just as violent as Alex and his droogs, or gang. In fact, by the end of the novel, his droogs have themselves become the police. The police have no qualms about beating people almost to the point of death as they do with Alex both at the beginning, “...they all had a turn, bouncing me from one to the other like some very weak bloody ball...and fisting me in the yarbles and the [mouth] and the belly and dealing out kicks...I [was] sick...on the floor...” (70) and at the end of the book for no other reason than they feel like it. “...It was all panting and thudding against this like background of whirring farm engines...” (150) There seems to be no difference between the people being beaten by streets punks such as Alex and the police, who are supposed to protect them. The novel begins with the police doing little to protect the citizens, for how else could a fifteen year old kid and three of his friends rule the streets? They also seem to relish beating Alex for the reason that they don't get to do it often. However, by the third part of this book, crime is almost non-existent, but the police are far more brutal. Neither of these scenarios is the better of the two. In fact the cops are not out to help the people, they only want to serve themselves. Alex, during his first beating, confesses and hands his droogs to the police, but the police do nothing to capture them. The reason the people are so afraid “...then a bolt drawn, then the door open an inch or so...” (19-20) is that they have to be, since no one else seems to care about their well being. The government is not much better. These corrupted individuals are only
out for themselves. They are in power, like it, and want to stay there as long as possible. To achieve this end they will both tell the people what they want and then do it for them. One example of this deals with crime. The citizens of this society are fed up with it so the government gets rid of it using brutal corrupt cops. “The way that had been cleaned up, there being no longer any dirty, ballooning slovos...” (132) Since the People are not seeing the crimes of the police, they believe that the government is protecting them and so are appeased. Another example of this deal more directly with Alex. The citizens want everyone to be good and peaceful. The government to show this take away a person's free will to be bad. Thus the citizenry believe the criminals have been reformed when in truth they have only been forced to do good, as they did with Alex. Then when the people realize they prefer free will, the government gives this back to Alex. The government is at the top and they like it there so they will do anything to stay there. Thought the government and the police are both very cruel to the people this does not mean that the people themselves are good. This is shown in many ways. One such way is that the police were once common citizens themselves so it follows that their behavior is that of the people. Another example of this involves one of Alex's former victims. At the beginning of the book, Alex and his droogs attack an old man carrying books. When Alex is released, this same old man beats him in revenge. “...starting to deal me malenky weak [hits in my stomach]...” (144) The prey becomes the predator. This shows that given a chance, even those who are supposed to be “good” will stoop to the level of the street punk. Another example of this is shown with the people who eventually try to help Alex. F. Alexander, the writer of the book A Clockwork Orange from whence the novel is named, does help Alex only for his own ends, and even harms Alex "...I could [hear] music coming out of the wall, real gromky, and it had dragged me out of my bit of sleep..." (166-167) if he thinks that will help his cause more. These are just a few examples of how the people are just as corrupt
as the government. Everyone in this novel is violent, from the cops to the government to the old men who spend their days in the library. However, Alex's and other criminals, such as Pete, one of Alex's former droogs, are in many ways better than the other members of this society because they “grow up.” They grow tired of the violence and decide to settle down and start families. This is something the citizens, police and government never learn. A young woman defends herself by beating Alex at the beginning of the novel, and an old man beats him at the end. The government change him one way at the beginning, and still not satisfied, change him again at the end. The police beat him at the beginning and the end. Even Alex's social worker spits on him. However, maybe we see hope for the future with the true change in Alex at the end of the novel.