Alex wakes up late, at nearly seven-thirty, and finds his parents eating dinner. He pities them for their dull and tiresome lives. His father timidly asks Alex where he works in the evenings. Alex gives a vague answer, saying that he does “mostly odd things, helping like. Here and there, as it might be,” then gives his father a dirty look, as if to tell him to mind his own business. He never asks for money, so his father needn’t bother about it. His father, “humble mumble chumble,” apologizes for asking, explaining that he worries about Alex. He’s had a dream that Alex was beaten up by other boys. Alex assures him that will never happen and gives his father a sum of money.
Leaving his house, Alex is surprised to find his droogs waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Their grins make him uneasy. Alex learns that the three others have been talking behind his back and want things to change, to be “more democratic like.” They also have a plan to start getting into some bigger crimes, stealing from rich homes and fencing valuables. As Georgie explains the plan, Alex feels that his dream has come true. Georgie has become the general, with Dim alongside ready to whip him if he doesn’t fall in line. Unwilling to accept this new order of things, Alex whips out a razor and challenges Georgie to a fight, which he wins by razoring Georgie’s hand and forcing him to drop his knife. Next, Alex faces off with Dim, and, ducking Dim’s swinging chain, he cuts his friend deeply in the wrist. Having won the battle and reasserted his leadership, Alex wraps up Dim’s bleeding arm, and the group head off to their usual bar, the Duke of New York.
At the bar, they find the same old women drinking and proclaiming their loyalty: “We’d never split on you, boys.” They buy the women beer. Georgie then gives Alex the details of the night’s plan: to rob a mansion inhabited by a very old woman, who lives alone with her cats and supposedly has many valuables. A criminal Georgie knows, Will the English, will fence these valuables for them. As they leave on this mission, the old women at the bar eagerly promise to provide the boys with an alibi as before.
Analysis of Part 1, Chapter 5
Continually throughout this novel, we see how the older generations in this society fear and defer to the young. Alex’s father apologizes, in a manner described as “humble mumble chumble” for asking his son where he works. He accepts money from Alex, then explains that he and his wife won’t go out on the town with it—“We daren’t go out much, the streets being what they are. Young hooligans and so on.” The ladies at the bar, who had initially begged the boys “Leave us be…we’re only poor old women” are now fawning over the gang obsequiously, giving them alibis for their crimes, partly out of fear and partly out of gratitude.
The reversal of the natural social order, in which the young punks rule over their elders, is an extension of a phenomenon of the latter half of the twentieth century. The rock and roll generation, the hippies, punks, and anarchists, rebelled against what they saw as an overly restrictive social order. Burgess took what he saw in the early 1960s and projected it a few decades ahead to create this nightmarish vision of a London gripped by a callow, self-interested, and frequently violent youth culture.