Part 2, Chapter 5
For the rest of the afternoon, Alex is forced to watch even more horrible films. He thinks to himself that the minds of these doctors must be even more filthy than any prisoner in the Staja (State Jail), as they have come up with scenes of unimaginable violence.
Back at his room at the end of the viewing, Alex is visited by Dr. Branom, who says that according to his calculations, Alex should be feeling better. Alex, still unaware of the source of his nausea, is confused as to how Dr. Branom would be able to “calculate” what his inner feelings are. Dr. Branom tells him that Dr. Brodsky is pleased with his response. He explains that Alex’s ill feelings indicate that he is being made sane and healthy. He is learning that the proper response to violence is to feel sick.
Alex has a visit from the Discharge Officer, who asks about his plans for when he is released. Alex says that he will go back to live with his parents. He thinks it will be fun to walk in the door and surprise them, so he won’t tell them in advance of his release. The officer gives him a list of jobs to choose from, but Alex says they’ll talk about it later, secretly plotting some criminal heists when he is released. Before leaving, the officer asks Alex if he’d like to punch him in the face. Alex thinks this an odd request, but he takes a swing at him anyway. The man pulls away, laughing loudly, and Alex feels very sick.
Alex goes to sleep and dreams that he is leading a gang rape he saw in one of the films. In the dream, he is laughing and hitting the girl along with the others, when suddenly he is paralyzed. The other gang members laugh at him. Alex wakes up feeling sick and wants to go to the bathroom, but he finds he is trapped in his room. The door is locked and there are bars on the windows. The nausea passes, but he is afraid to go back to sleep. Eventually, he does fall asleep and has no more dreams.
Analysis of Part 2, Chapter 5
After watching more of the horrible films, Alex begins to think that the doctors are sicker than the patients, which seems to be true. Burgess intended to show that violence in the hands of the State is far more scary than that of ordinary criminals. Compared to the calculating and controlling power of the State, Alex the monster now seems nothing but a bullying child.
Alex has a hard time understanding how Dr. Branom is able to “calculate” how he is feeling. He thinks that feelings are something personal to him, not something that can be calculated. But in the view of radical behaviorism, “feelings” are really just behaviors that can be predicted. Alex views himself as an autonomous person with a soul or will that is separate from his body. Dr. Branom views Alex as an organism exhibiting a complex of behaviors, more like a robot or a machine.
Dr. Branom assures Alex that he is getting better, that paradoxically, his illness indicates health. The equation of illness to health sounds suspiciously like doublespeak and thought control. However, the conditioning does seem to be working. Alex is learning to avoid violence. Could the end justify the means?