Alex and his three “droogs” (companions), Pete, Georgie, and Dim, amuse themselves by getting high on drugs, exercising wanton violence on defenseless victims, and engaging in rumbles with rival gangs. They relish “ultra-violence,” vividly demonstrated by a “surprise visit” they pay to a writer’s house in the country. They beat the owner and rape his wife. Alex is warned by his probation officer against such antics, but the young thug overreaches himself and is captured after breaking into an old woman’s house and beating her senseless. He is sent to prison for murder after the woman dies. He is only fifteen years old.
Part 2 of the novel reduces Alex to a number (6655321) and shows his progress in prison as a model prisoner. He feigns interest in religion to get on the good side of the prison chaplain. He schemes to get out of prison by volunteering to be a subject for an experiment in psychological conditioning designed to make subjects violently ill at the very thought of sex or violence. The chaplain, understanding the nature of sin, advises Alex against this experiment, which will deprive him of free will, stating that “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.” Alex is interested only in release from prison, and he gets his wish.
Alex is chosen for the Reclamation Treatment administered by Dr. Brodsky, whose work is sponsored for political reasons by the minister of the interior. Alex is given drugs to make him sick while watching violent pornography and “nasty” films showing German and Japanese torture during World War II. The treatment works,...
(The entire section is 655 words.)