A Clockwork Orange
To leave out the final chapter of A Clockwork Orange is to change the entire meaning of the novel; as Burgess says in the introduction, his story is transformed into a fable. Without the last chapter the reader is left with a dark and pessimistic theme, that absolute good and evil exist in this world and it is possible for a man to be pure evil. Alex is conditioned and unconditioned, and in the end all indications point to a malicious life of crime. He is a clockwork orange, programmed to be subservient to a master, whether it be the Devil, the government, or a group of men. Alex is a windup toy. However, this was not the message Burgess intended to convey. He believes that a clockwork orange does not exist in our society, it cannot exist, for it is inhuman to be pure good or pure evil. All humans have free will and moral choice--no human can behave as a machine. This point is lost to those who are denied the final chapter of A Clockwork Orange.
Chapter 20 ends with Alex saying "I was cured all right." These are the last words of the book in the American version. There is no indication that Alex will change from the evil life it appears he will soon resume. It is implied to the reader that Alex is destined for a life of evil and there is nothing he can do to change it. Alex has no free will or moral choice. The theme of the 20 chapter version is that there is no such thing as free will or moral choice. Alex is evil and he has no ability to change that. The story also ends without Alex evolving at all from the beginning of the book.
Chapter 21 gives the book an absolutely...