From the Dennis Potter mailing list, re: Clockwork Orange:
That said, the last chapter of the novel is a massive climb down, don't you think?
I much prefer the story without - the sensibility being not that, as one grows up one becomes less violent or savage, but that the way in which you are violent or savage changes - maturity as a sophisitcation of violence, rather than a move away from it.
Good point, but even leaving religion out of it, I'd say Burgess already gave us an extensive series of sketches of the more sophisticated forms of violence in society: that shown in the prison, that shown by Alex's former droogs, now police officers, and that very act of Ludovico'ing Alex--violence at its most progressive and reform-minded, but violence nevertheless.
I'd argue that Burgess' final chapter gives us the human response to everything that Alex has gone through--he's reacted to everything so far the way an automaton would, a 'clockwork' mechanism capable of sex and violence and suffering. What then is his ultimate response as a man, an 'orange' capable of bright, juicy goodness?
It's not as simple as you'd think--it's not all sweetness and light. There's bitterness and anger here, as Alex realizes what he's become (a responsible member of society, Bog damn it--one of those losers he makes so much fun of). He knows it for what it is--'all that cal' he puts it. I'd think, and I believe Burgess suggests it here, that now that he's finally changed he'll have to deal with all the things he's done given his newfound sensibility, and he quails at the prospect. But the change does happen, and he can't turn away from it. It's himself, finally.