The phrase that summarizes Anthony Burgess' sprawling, intricate plot of A Clockwork Orange is: back to Square One. Its violent, yet moralistic core centers on the philosophy of "leaving well enough alone," with a smidgeon of "what goes around comes around."
Alex, a cocksure and rotten gang leader who listens to Beethoven, leads his barbarian band of "droogs" into nightmarish scenarios. The time is set somewhere in the near future, in the tattered shreds of a formerly civilized country. Violence portrayed in "A Clockwork Orange" is several notches above what is normally demonstrated by troublesome youth in fact and fiction.
The acts of devastation committed by this gang of four are random, and they derive abnormal pleasure from raping, killing, torturing and maiming unsuspecting victims who inadvertently cross their angry young paths. Some of the survivors of their violent jags crop back up later in the story and play powerful roles in the way the story evolves.
After juicing up at a milk bar where white liquid streams freely from the nipples of kneeling nudies, Alex and his pals are ready for a taste of the old ultra-violence, or even a bit of the old in-out (i.e. raping). A decrepit drunk in the shadows of a desolate gutter is one of their first victims, and they beat him to a pulp for no apparent reason other than sheer enjoyment.
Another encounter unfolds at the futuristically artsy home of a middle-aged couple, where the droogs play the I-have-car-problems-can-you-help game to get past the stylish front door. Once inside, they rape the wife and beat the husband and wife while Alex crudely croons, "Singing in the Rain."
The wife dies from injuries, and the husband survives with physical limitations.
Meanwhile, signs of a power struggle between Alex and droog buddy Dim are heating up. The result is a disciplinary whack with a thick club across Dim's back that sends him flying. Alex gets away with his act of brotherly violence on the surface, but Dim...