Brave New World

Brave New World Summary and Analysis of Chapters 10-12

Chapter 10

Summary:

The Director passes through the Centre’s Fertilizing room, admiring the fertilizing and decanting technologies. He and Henry Foster plan to meet Bernard in the Fertilizing Room. The Director tells Henry that Bernard must receive punishment because no one should lead the general population astray with strange behavior or notions of individuality. With all the workers present, the Director publicly reproaches Bernard for his social misconduct and tells him that he must go to Iceland where he will not be able to influence others.

Bernard laughs and introduces Linda. Linda quickly recognizes the Director, calls him by his name, Tomakin, and rushes up to give him a hug. When he pulls away out of disgust, Linda angrily screams at him for leaving her on the Reservation while pregnant with John. The Director becomes even more mortified when John walks in, falls to his knees, and calls him "father," a word filled with embarrassing meaning. All the workers begin laughing until the Director finally runs out of the room.

Analysis:

This chapter uses contrast to emphasize the rising tension of the novel. Bernard and the Director represent two sides of the novel’s main conflict, and this chapter describes their confrontation. The chapter opens with descriptions of the scientific mechanisms used to create humans. The Director states that no one, including Bernard, can express individuality in any way. The Centre can simply make a new individual if anyone gets out of line, which indicates the society’s reliance on science rather than human life.

The Director's predicament in the chapter is an example of irony. The Director enters the room with a high regard for social programming and belief in the good of science, state regulation, and conformity in all social practices. However, the Director becomes the chief example of non-conformity when the others learn that he himself exhibited the most embarrassing behavior in society by fathering a child. The Director, who is normally responsible for the creation of life and ordering of class, is also responsible for a sexual act that goes against this dystopian society.

Chapter 11

Summary:

The Director decides to resign his position because the shame of being a "father" is too great. All of "upper-caste" London clamors to see the savage, and John becomes the center of attention. However, they consider Linda repulsive because of her age, her bad teeth, and her weight. She takes soma in excess, both to enjoy the feeling of "eternity" that she used to feel as a member of civilized society, and so that she can remove herself from the judgment and looks of repugnance of the other members of society. John worries about her but receives assurance that she feels happier with soma even though she will not live much longer if she keeps taking so much. For the first time, John encounters the civilized society's attitude towards death.

Bernard immediately becomes famous because he controls the Savage's social schedule. Bernard takes advantage of his fame to get as many women as he can. He holds parties for the social elites to visit and meet the Savage. However, he foolishly criticizes society and even goes so far as to lecture Mustapha Mond in a letter on ways that society could improve. The letter amuses and angers Mond, who nevertheless chooses not to punish Bernard for his hubris.

Helmholtz Watson tells Bernard that he disapproves of Bernard’s boastfulness and pride. Watson and the other social elites agree that Bernard’s behavior will one day lead "to a bad end." After a brief disagreement with Helmholtz in which the latter expresses his disappointment, Bernard becomes angry and vows never to talk to him again.

John the Savage, meanwhile, receives a tour of a local radio tower and of an elementary school, Eton, while Bernard acts arrogant and important the entire time. At the school, John watches a video of Indian savages performing ritual worship while all the schoolchildren laugh at them. John asks why everyone laughs and learns that the children laugh because the scene is ridiculous and funny. John's sense of displacement grows.

Lenina convinces John to go on a date with her. She takes him to a feelie show about a black man who falls in love with a blonde-haired woman. In the movie, he abducts her, and after three weeks, three strong Alpha Plus males finally rescue her. She then becomes the lover to all three of them, and the black man must go to reconditioning. John finds the movie’s morals offensive. He takes Lenina back to her place but leaves her before having sex. She becomes upset because she had hoped to sleep with him and only recovers by taking soma. John goes home and starts reading Shakespeare's Othello because he recalls the presence of a black man in the play.

Analysis:

This chapter focuses on Bernard and John’s shifting behavior and attitudes. When Bernard becomes important, he begin to like the society more, a change that reveals his baser side. Pride and arrogance are Bernard's tragic flaw, the personality trait that causes his downfall. As long as Bernard felt inferior and out of place, he hated his society and explored the meaning of human emotion and individuality. Because he did not accept societal norms, he acted in an individual capacity and could identify with John's plight back in the village, a characteristic that John and Helmholtz Watson.

However, as soon as he becomes popular, Bernard rejects his previous hatred and starts to like what society has to offer. Thus, he tells Helmholtz that he had six different women in one week. Bernard emerges as a shallow and self-absorbed character who fails to realize that selfishness is merely a different form of individuality and that he still has no place in a society where individual lives are subordinate to social stability.

John's attitude towards this "brave new world" changes as well. By visiting work sites and participating in the world’s social elements, John becomes increasingly disillusioned with his surroundings. Bernard notes that John often does not feel awe the technology around him, which he considers strange for someone from the reservation, which has no technology or science. John, however, holds onto something else: myth and story.

In the novel, myth is an attractive element in the human character. When Bernard attempts to point out the advancement of his society, John remarks that the gods of his world also accomplished such feats. Huxley thus suggests that the power of myth is as important to human character as is the power of science. While the savages have no science, they survive and thrive on the power of myth.

Throughout the chapter, John reads Shakespeare whenever he feels upset or confused. Shakespeare's literature and Linda's previous life in civilized society have always been John's only sources of information about the other world. Since Linda is permanently under the influence of soma, John can only turn to Shakespeare to explain his surroundings. Ironically, Shakespeare was a genius at invoking passion and emotion, whereas society has virtually destroyed these feelings. This disconnect creates a series of serious misunderstandings between John and the rest of society, since John struggles to develop his emotions while everyone else struggles to stifle their feelings.

Chapter 12

Summary:

Bernard holds a party with many of society's most important people in attendance. He goes to get John and introduce him, but John will not leave his room. Furious, the guests immediately begin disparaging Bernard, who feels humiliated. The Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury leaves, taking Lenina with him. Meanwhile, John sits in his room and continues reading Romeo and Juliet while the party falls apart, unaware that Lenina was even at the party. When Lenina hears that John will not attend the party, she feels a new emotion: "a sense of dreadful emptiness, a breathless apprehension, a nausea."

Meanwhile, Mustapha Mond reads scientific reports and evaluates them for publication based on the social impact of each report. Mustapha expresses regret that he cannot always publish brilliant science because it might harm society. One particular report, "A New Theory of Biology," particularly disappoints him. It suggests that the purpose of life might not be "the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge." Though this might be true, Mond knows that such ideas would destabilize society.

Bernard takes a large dose of soma to escape the shame of the disastrous party. When he recovers, John acts more sympathetically because Bernard is once again humble and reflective. John explains that Bernard now acts more as he did when they first met. Bernard also returns to Helmholtz who agrees to take him back as a friend. The sympathy and friendship of the two men only serves to make Bernard want revenge on them for having caused his fame to disappear.

Helmholtz has gotten into trouble while Bernard entertained. He wrote a poem about being alone, and he had foolishly decided to read it to his students during a lecture. They complained to higher authorities, who told Helmholtz that if anything else happened, he would no longer have his position.

When Helmholtz meets John the Savage, they quickly befriend each other. Bernard feels displaced while with them, and he continually does things to annoy them. After Helmholtz reads his poetry to the Savage, John pulls out his volume of Shakespeare and reads passages. The beauty of the writing stuns Helmholtz, but Bernard makes stupid jokes in order to disrupt the reading.

Everything goes well until John reads Romeo and Juliet. Since John still loves Lenina, he identifies with Romeo and puts a great deal of passion into the story. However, the idea of forbidden love is so alien to society that Helmholtz finally bursts out laughing. At this point, John angrily locks away his book. Helmholtz recognizes Shakespeare's genius, but admits that such foreign notions of romantic love could never cause his desire disruption of society.

Analysis:

Both Bernard and Helmholtz receive warnings about their behavior in this chapter. Bernard feels inferior to other men, and when he returns to reconcile with Helmholtz, he dislikes that Helmholtz generously still wants to be friends. The friendship between Helmholtz and the Savage also makes Bernard feel displaced. The contrasting emotions of generosity and selfishness depict the differences between these characters.

Bernard's character may also be Huxley's critique of the hubris of socialist government. Bernard's last name Marx alludes to Karl Marx, whose economic theories later contributed to the communist revolution and whose ideas underlie much socialist thought. Like socialist theory, Bernard longs for deeper meaning in human experience. However, Bernard’s taste of power corrupts him, much as power corrupted many socialist governments in the twentieth century.

Bernard's constant and petty interruption of John and Helmholtz’s conversations reflects his inferiority complex. Like a child, he will do anything to be the center of attention. He thus shows that he cannot extricate himself from the ideals of the society. In addition, where he used to refuse soma, he now uses it whenever he feels depressed. Consequently, the state has the power to corrupt completely. By contrast, Helmholtz transitions from being a robotic, emotionless member of society to being a thinking, emotional individual, as he writes poems about being alone and allows Shakespeare to stir his emotions.

Unlike the other characters, Mustapha Mond has dedicated himself to maximizing societal happiness despite his awareness of other possibilities for life. Mond reflects the inability of attempts at utopian society to resolve all problems, as conflicting ideas of human behavior and purpose will always remain. He immediately condemns any report that might hurt society's goals, but Mustapha unwillingly censors many of the reports. He proclaims, "What fun it would be if one didn't have to think about happiness!"

By this chapter, Lenina has begun acting in ways that belie her previous behavior. Her inability to get John Savage to spend the night with her causes her to think about him constantly and to fall into a state of depression that she cannot cure with soma. For the first time, Lenina experiences love, with both the euphoria of wanting to be with a particular person and the unhappiness of not having him, as opposed to pleasure or lust. As a result, when the Songster leads her away from the party, she does not want to go, and when he wants to sleep with her, she requests more soma than usual.