Chapter 21? in A Clockwork Orange

Essay by phishstyxzCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2003

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The American edition of the novel, A Clockwork Orange features a final chapter that was omitted from the original English edition against the author's preference. Anthony Burgess, the novel's author, provided for the new edition an introduction to explain not only the significance of the twenty-first chapter but also the purpose of the entire book which was the fundamental importance of moral choice. Burgess states that the twenty-first chapter was intended to show the maturation, or moral progress of the youthful protagonist, Alex. There is a debate among many is whether the twenty-first chapter is necessary. I feel that in leaving out the last chapter, the reader never connects with the protagonist. Without the twenty-first chapter, Alex remains inhuman and mechanical, a clockwork orange performing only evil.

According to Burgess, the omission of the twenty-first chapter resulted in the reduction of the novel from fiction to fable, something untrue to life.

Human beings change, and Burgess wanted his protagonist to mature rather than stay in adolescent aggression. The twenty-first chapter shows this change, and the chapter is important because it includes Alex's mature assessment of his own adolescence, and it shows the importance of maturity to moral freedom, which is Burgess's main point.

Burgess's little Alex is a clockwork orange until he reaches maturity in the twenty-first chapter. Alex always was a clockwork orange, a machine for mechanical violence far below the level of choice. The twenty-first chapter describes how Alex, after seeing one of his former "droogs" reformed, decides to leave his former life behind him. He realizes that he has spent his young years destroying rather than creating. He grows tired of violence and sees it as a characteristic of immaturity. He confesses that there is something missing in his life and later explains that a wife and...