After work, Lenina and Bernard Marx share a crowded elevator heading to the roof. In front of everyone, she tells Bernard that she will go on a date with him. She offers to take a weeklong trip to New Mexico if Bernard still wants to have her. The public display embarrasses Marx, who would prefer to talk it over in private. Lenina laughs at his awkwardness and then takes off with Henry Foster in a helicopter. They leave London for a round of Obstacle Golf, a game for adults. Benito Hoover, an Alpha, approaches Bernard as he watches her leave, tells Bernard not to look so glum, and offers him the narcotic soma to make him feel better. Bernard rushes off before even talking to Benito, another sign of his strange behavior.
Bernard feels both ashamed and uncomfortable by his exchange with Benito Hoover, yet he also realizes that Benito cannot help but act the way that he does any more than the rest of society. Bernard notes, "Those who meant well behaved in the same way as those who meant badly." He gets his own flying machine and bosses around several Delta-Minus attendants who give him funny looks because he is no bigger than they are. Because physique is an important indicator of caste, it is a sore spot for Bernard and he takes his frustration and insecurities out on those that are inferior to him.
Bernard enters his private vehicle and flies over to visit Helmholtz Watson. Watson is a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering. His specialty is in writing hypnopaedic lines that "pierce" into people's subconscious minds to make them behave in certain ways. Both men are individual thinkers who have become friends because they cannot fit well into the society. Bernard is different because he is physically smaller than the average Alpha, whereas Watson is more intelligent then other men. Watson is the antithesis of Bernard; he is handsome and sporty and has women fawning over him. However, he prefers intellectual conversations and likes to talk to Bernard Marx.
They go to Bernard's apartment and Helmholtz talks about wanting to be able to create something out of words. He knows that he writes slogans well, but he feels that his words are not important. Helmholtz tells Bernard that he has "a feeling that I've got something important to say and the power to say it - only I don't know what it is, and I can't make any use of the power." While he is talking, Bernard becomes afraid that someone is listening to them at the door. He goes to check but finds no one there. Having betrayed his nervousness, Bernard breaks down and tells Helmholtz, "When people are suspicious with you, you start being suspicious with them."
Chapter 4 marks a departure from the first three chapters by introducing rational humans. Both Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson have deep-seated suspicions of the society that they live in, though they do not know how to put such suspicions into thought or words. This impulse towards the rational comes from differences - physical for Bernard, mental for Helmholtz - that disrupt their ability to accept the ordered world around them. Thus, Huxley makes a statement about creativity, progress, and the ability of powerful authorities to stifle such things.
Huxley shows society’s abhorrence of rational, independent thought in the mockery of Bernard Marx by his coworkers. Helmholtz Watson also faces the same predicament in the sense that his superiors think he is too good at what he does. This fear of individuality ensures the stability of the society because its absence prevents creativity. Since creativity would lead to attempts to reform the society, the World Controllers root out individual creativity whenever possible.
A conflict emerges between the rational thinkers and the majority who merely follow orders. By identifying in Bernard Marx many of the normal feelings and emotions people normally have, the reader comes to support him as an underdog. Because of his deep emotions and passions, Bernard often induces empathy from the reader. However, Marx is also insecure and emotional, and he therefore has difficulty understanding his society. In this way, his pathos is a flaw.
Helmholtz, on the other hand, embodies pure reason and intelligence devoid of emotional complications. Huxley does not contrast reason against creativity in Helmholtz’s character in the same way that he does with a character such as Mustapha Mond. Mond represents a political system that uses only cold rationalism to order society, whereas Helmholtz's reasoning has a creative spark. Huxley thus suggests that society requires a balance between emotion and reason to maximize human potential. Helmholtz provides a philosophical understanding of society. He understands Bernard's emotional conflicts rationally and without personal involvement.
Lenina and Henry Foster finish their game and go to his apartment building. On the way, they see a cremation factory, which leads them to discuss the physico-chemical equality of all caste members, from Alpha to Epsilon. Lenina comments that all members of society are happy, regardless of their caste. According to Foster, this happiness derives from their conditioning, and "even Epsilons perform indispensable services." This leads Lenina to recall a time in her childhood in which she woke from sleep and become aware, for the first time, of the conditioning and "the whispering that had haunted all her sleeps."
At Foster's apartment building, they eat before heading to the Westminster Abbey Cabaret. After taking several doses of soma, an experience described as "the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of soma-holiday," they dance to the synthetic music of "Calvin Stopes and His Sixteen Sexophonists" until the show ends. They return to Foster's apartment and prepare to sleep together. Even though the soma has put Lenina in a hypnotic state, she remembers to take her contraceptive drugs because years of hypnopaedic drills have "made the taking of these precautions almost as automatic and inevitable as blinking."
Meanwhile, Bernard attends a Solidarity meeting, a community gathering where the people worship Ford for his ideas and try to merge themselves into a unified group. Bernard is almost late and feels embarrassed when a woman asks him which sport he played that afternoon, since Bernard has to admit that he does not usually play any games.
The twelve people in his group take a seating arrangement around a circular table that alternates sexes. The service resembles the Eucharist in Christianity, but they consume soma rather than bread and wine. The goal is to unify the twelve people present into one person. The people sing until they feel Ford’s presence, and then they dance to the hymn "Orgy-porgy." Bernard fixates on Morgana, a woman whose unibrow distracts him so much that he cannot feel the same ecstasy as the other people and must pretend to be as caught up in the ceremony as the others. The service ends, and Bernard emerges feeling more self-conscious than ever before.
Foster and Lenina represent the majority of society, who have a limited range of actions and do not do anything extraordinary. Their conversation consists of repeating phrases learned during hypnopaedia and therefore contains no new intellectual ideas. When they go dancing at the Cabaret, they join 400 other people, indicating that they adhere to state doctrine.
Their conversation about the crematorium also signifies the social control that the state has created. They do not fear death or analyze any philosophical conundrums about life and death. They cannot even fully comprehend what it would mean to be a member of a different caste. Lenina and Henry both agree that it would be worse to be an Epsilon or a Gamma than it would be to die. Death, as Henry puts it, is simply another way to benefit society.
The twisting of religion also occurs in this chapter. Henry and Lenina attend a dance club at the "Westminster Abbey Cabaret." Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous Churches in Western Religion and an important symbol in the Protestant religious tradition. Huxley again shows how the state can appropriate religious symbols for social control. Westminster Abbey, a symbol of strict religious authority, is now a club that encourages dancing, sex, and other kinds of activity that might today be immoral. The name of the band alludes to John Calvin, a prominent figure in Protestantism and a major theologian of predestination, the doctrine that God has already determined the fates of everyone in the universe. These symbols show how rewriting history can suppress original thought.
The religious service attended by Bernard also uses Christian icons and concepts. The circle consists of twelve people, which parallels the twelve disciples of Jesus. The drinking and consuming of soma reflects the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, where Christians consume the metaphorical blood and body of Christ. Each service tries to bring wholeness to the individual participating in them. However, the similarity ends here, and the sexual dancing which follows rejects Christianity in favor of a primal sexual dance. The worship of Ford reinforces this society’s sexual norms.
Bernard's inability to join the group as it merges spiritually and sexually further emphasizes his distinctness. Because they already lack any individuality, the other group members easily unite, but spiritual merger is impossible for Bernard. He has achieved a sense of self-awareness that is merely nascent in the other characters of the novel. Lenina, for instance, has a brief flashback in which she remembers the hypnopaedic therapy of her childhood. She instinctively senses that the process is unnatural, but she disregards those notions for the implanted feelings and phrases of her conditioning.
Lenina dates Bernard twice before their trip to the Savage Reservations, and each time she finds Bernard to be extremely odd. Bernard prefers to walk with her in a park so that they can spend time talking. However, Lenina cannot comprehend the idea of intellectual conversation and convinces him instead watch a wrestling match. Bernard refuses to take any soma and is unhappy in the middle of a large crowd. That same night, Lenina expects Bernard to stay over and sleep with her, but he has to take a lot of soma before he can do so because he feels embarrassment over entering into sexual relations so early in their relationship.
At the end of their second date, while flying over the British Channel, Bernard stops his helicopter over the rough, tossing sea. Lenina cannot understand why he does this. She calls the scene "horrible," but Bernard insists instead that it is beautiful. Such terrible beauty in the natural world causes Bernard to think of his own life's turmoil and to appreciate his intellectual nonconformity.
Bernard confides that he wishes they had waited to have sex. He comments to Lenina that while people are adults intellectually, they are children as far as their emotions are concerned. He tires of being a cell in the body of society and would prefer to be an individual. Such conformity, he says, keeps him from truly being happy. Lenina responds to his heresy by quoting her hypnopaedic learning. She claims that all people are happy because they can do whatever they want. Bernard tries to force her to contemplate and critique the structure of society, but to no avail. Lenina says that she likes him but wishes he were not so odd.
Later, Bernard visits the Director and receives permission to take Lenina to the Savage Reservations. The Director relates a story of how, 25 years prior, he had taken a blond Beta Minus woman to the reservation. While on an excursion, they ended up in a storm, and she disappeared. The Director shows a great deal of remorse and claims that he still dreams of the incident. At the end of the story, he realizes that he has revealed emotions that he has never forgotten. This upsets him because society forbids such displays of emotion over past events, and strong emotions are supposed to be impossible because of genetic engineering.
The Director yells at Bernard for failing to conform to societal standards. He threatens to send Bernard to Iceland if the latter does not begin to conform his personal life to the demands of society. Bernard returns home and brags to Helmholtz about his encounter with the Director by embellishing the details. He tells Helmholtz that he confronted the Director and told him to go to the "Bottomless Pit," even though this account is false. Helmholtz is unimpressed, and hates the way Bernard goes from self-pity to arrogant boasting.
Bernard and Lenina cross the Atlantic and go to a hotel near the reservation. Bernard warns her that the reservation lacks any sort of games or amusements, and that she might be bored. She quotes her hypnopaedic learning: "progress is lovely." Bernard tells her that there is no progress on the reservation. She insists on coming with him. They both go to the warden of the reservation where they receive an introduction to the "savages" that live there. They learn how the savages remain in an older way of life where they bear children naturally, speak various languages, and obey religious principles.
Bernard remembers at that moment that he left a perfume tap running in his home, and that it will be quite expensive. He calls Helmholtz to get it turned off and learns that the Director has decided to transfer him to Iceland as soon as a replacement is found. Iceland is a place devoid of progress and the creature comforts of life in England. Previously, Bernard yearned to feel what it might be like to encounter disappointment or struggles in life. He realizes that such emotions are not what he thought they would be. Lenina makes him take several soma to quell the emotions. Bernard and Lenina proceed into the reservation where they receive a tour, but both have taken soma and cannot fully comprehend what they are seeing.
Much of this chapter deals with emotional suppression. Bernard experiences emotions such as longing, embarrassment, tension, and disappointment while Lenina suppresses all emotions before they can surface. She uses soma to avoid situations that would normally incur anger or boredom. Interestingly, Bernard continually becomes angry with Lenina in spite of his love for her. He appears to treat her very badly, almost condescendingly, but this behavior only demonstrates his frustration with an emotionless society. Huxley demonstrates the complexity of a society that attempts to manipulate the emotions of its citizens. On the one hand, Bernard's range of emotions causes him disappointment and anger, but on the other hand, his emotions of love and longing for a better life suggest his future enlightenment.
Bernard's behavior only makes sense if the reader understands that Bernard is in love with Lenina. However, his love comes from who he perceives her to be, not on who she really is. Bernard therefore tries to force Lenina to conform to his perception of her. In addition, he is desperate to have her return his love. In a society devoid of commitment and monogamy, the only way for Bernard to get her to fall in love with him is to force her to experience emotions. As a result, his anger and behavior derives from his attempts to have Lenina to overcome her conditioning and become emotional.
Each character’s use of soma revolves around inhibiting their emotions. Bernard takes soma when he sleeps with Lenina on the first date, to smother his emotional revulsion and embarrassment at having sex so soon, and when he finds out he must move to Iceland. Lenina uses soma much more frequently than Bernard but for the same reason: she wishes to suppress her emotions. Soma therefore acts not only as a narcotic to control the masses, but also as a means for individuals to avoid emotional conflict.
The Director's story expresses emotions of fear and love. Since society expressly forbids this, he realizes that he should not have told Bernard about his experience. Thus, the Director's anger towards Bernard arises from his fear that Bernard might use that information against him. The Director arranges to transfer Bernard to Iceland out of fear that Bernard might tell someone else the story. Huxley characterizes emotions as a force for both social control and social freedom. Society represses emotions to discourage rebellion against authority and threats against the world order. Bernard’s emotional rebellion adds to the rising tension of the storyline.