The concept of belonging is essential. To belong is to form a connection which will allow a sense of identity to manifest, without this we lose our humanity; however, conformity is in a sense a facade of belonging, as it restrains our freedom and forces us to only mimic. My studied texts show how society demands us to conform, yet conformity prevents a sense of true identity being created. This notion is elaborated within the novel, A Clockwork Orange, a dark testimony to the power of the individual and the malevolence in forced conformity.
The protagonist, Alex, is a criminal who doesn’t belong anywhere within society. In the novel, the government attempts to suppress his criminality by physically preventing him from thinking of violence—thus making him conform to their standards. This is allegorical for how society attempts to make us conform to what is considered ‘normal’. Towards the end of the novel, the character F. Alexander tells Alex: “They have turned you into something other than a human … being.
You have no power of choice any longer. You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good. The quote shows us the central theme of the novel; if we cannot choose where we belong we lose our humanity—thus showing us the value of choice as well as the value of individuality. The metaphor and imagery of the title, a clockwork orange, symbolises what conformity does to a man. If we cannot choose where to belong we cease to be human but clockwork, or some type of deterministic mechanism.
We need to be able to choose where we belong for if it is not chosen, its authenticity ceases. The novel ends with Alex choosing the path of goodness, the established normality of society.
He states; “Perhaps I was getting too old now for the sort of life I had been leading, brothers” Alex chooses to belong to society, thus allowing a connection to be formed between him and the world. This sense of belonging is authentic as he has chosen it on his own terms rather than simply conforming. A reiteration of this concept is the film the Wrestler, which shows us the protagonist Randy’s desire to belong; yet society refuses to accept him for his individual self. The film shows us many occasions where he attempts to connect with society, yet each time he fails.
A notable example is where Randy dates a girl he meets in a bar, yet she requires that he dresses up like a fireman. The use of costuming shows us how society doesn’t accept him for who he is, constantly requiring him to change. Thus further elaborating how conformity is a facade of belonging as a sense of superficiality is created by the characters interaction. It is only in the world of wrestling that Randy can find some form of connection; despite its detrimental nature. This elaborates the idea of belonging being essential, for if he cannot belong he cannot exist in the world.
When Randy chooses to wrestle again, his friend Cassidy begs him to reconsider. In the dialogue between the two, Cassidy pleads “You could really hurt yourself. ” To which Randy replies “I know what I’m doing in here. Out there’s where I get hurt. ”The dialogue reiterates the concept belonging being a necessity for humanity. The film concludes with Randy drowning in the applause of the crowd, followed by a low angle shot of Randy jumping from the ring to his supposed death. The shot shows him empowered, and seems representative of the power one contracts by belonging.
To conclude, belonging is an existential possibility wherever or whenever we dwell. It is highly significant that the responsibility of belonging resides with the individual, and the task of belonging is one that concerns human beings at the most fundamental and personal ontological level. If the decision of where or whether or not to belong is not taken up by the individual, no true connection or sense of belonging is established—thus the failure to establish the empowerment of the intrinsic identity or individuality.
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