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A Clockwork Orange Essay: New Testament for American Youth?

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A Clockwork Orange – New Testament for American Youth?


In Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, he observes a characteristic of youth that has been documented from the story of Icaris to the movie Rebel without a Cause. Through his ingenious method of examination of this characteristic, the sci-fi novel, he has created an aspect of what he chose to observe: Rebellion.

Our hero, Alex, begins the novel by explaining his mischeviouse exploits in a manner not far from nostalgia, that is tainted with a bit of sarcasm for any bleeding-heart pity one might feel for his victims, as when he recalls his own realization of the importance of the term, "A Clockwork Orange." Alex says of the author and his wife that he "would like to have tolchocked them harder and ripped them to ribbons on their own floor. (CO 38)" By the juxtaposition of the intelligent rational used in the contemplation of this concept with the complete lack of respect for it, Burgess shows Alex’s attitude as one of childish ignorance coupled with testosterone induced negative energy. An attitude not absent from any boys upbringing. As Alex is growing through that difficult age known as adolescence, he is taking part in what we have called depaternalisation, throwing off the constraints of the previous generation. This is accomplished through random acts of violence, of course, but also through Alex’s existence within a subculture, which by definition is separate from and therefor contrasts with the mainstream culture.

Alex’s subculture is one of youth, and it is defined by its style of dress and its slang. Alex’s style of dress, described twice to us, once with his first gang and once with his second, is intentionally outrageous by our standards, with "a pair of blac...


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...t need to become good to maintain the theme of free will, although it must be much more reassuring to any of the elderly who read the book. My argument is that the book is suppose to be in opposition to the elderly, just like Alex is, and just like the audience is (i.e. American Youth). Through its rebelliousness achieved by the omission of the last chapter, A Clockwork Orange has become a manifesto for rebellion, an aspect of the culture it was written to observe.

Today, Madonna dresses as Alex did in Kubrick’s film, choreographing dance routines that look like scenes of rape and ultra-violence from the movie. When walking down the streets of campus, where bohemian lifestyles are embraced, the words "in-out, in-out" and "ultra-violence" are met with cheers of recognition and admiration. Has A Clockwork Orange become the “New Testament” for American youth?

 


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