A Clockwork Orange

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“A Clockwork Orange”, written by Anthony Burgess, circa 1962, is an absolute must-read.

At first glance, this is a dark and twisted story about a nightmarish future where young criminals rule London's after-dark, and how far society is willing to go to change those who aren't acceptable by its standards. Accounts of assault, battery, murder, and rape, committed just for fun, are all propaganda for or against the ability of humans to make the right decisions. If you don't ignore that, but take it into deep consideration, you will find this is a somewhat tragic tale of good and evil, and the consequences of not having the ability to make a choice between the two.

There is an old English expression, “…as queer as a clockwork orange”. When used in this context it is an oxymoron and implies that the thing to which the speaker is referring, is in fact as odd as a mechanical living thing (oranges are not technically living, but the tree from which the fruit came is indeed very much alive). The title, “A Clockwork Orange”, is a subplot of the story itself. It not only refers to the title of a story found within the story, but to “big picture”, as well.

The novel is about 15-year-old Alex, “Your Friend and Humble Narrator”. When all the bad he and his band of thugs (or “droogs”, as they're called), catches up with him, the state assumes the responsibility of turning him into a respectable and productive member of society, by any means necessary.

The moral you'll find is this: Man is an animal born with free will, and can make decisions about right and wrong. When he doesn't have the ability to make those decisions, when he is simply made to do what is good (or evil), he becomes a machine. Of course he still looks human, but has actually become a toy to be wound at the hands of God, the Devil, or the Government.





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