Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

BACKGROUND

Aldous Huxley wrote this book in 1931. The book describes a fictitious world where "perfection" is taken to a new level. Similar to George Orwellís book 1984, Brave New World fantasizes about a future place, Utopia, where everyone is controlled and most people are brainwashed. Birth is a scientific procedure. People are taught to think a certain way when they are young and then programmed to be happy and to enjoy life. Art and religion arenít allowed. They canít love, but the government encourages them to have fun and have lots of sex. This book takes a futuristic view to an extreme to show how dangerous control and lack of individuality can be.

MAIN CHARACTERS

Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning: He is the dude who explains what is going on in Utopia in the beginning of the book. Heís in charge of reproduction and he talks about the system they use to make babies. He has a son who is a savage (John) and the director tried to cover the whole thing up.

Lenina Crowne: She is a pretty girl. She is happy and follows the law. She has a lot of sex (itís legal) and wants John.

The Controller: He is one of 10 men who rule Utopia. Heís a smart guy who has a lot of power.

Bernard Marx: He is a member of the Alpha class (upper class). But he sticks out because heís not like the other Alphas. He is not a happy guy and is a bit of a loner. He is kicked out of Utopia in the end.

Helmholtz Watson: He is an Alpha, too. He is good at everything: sex, sports, etc. Heís a smart dude but gets kicked out of Utopia in the end.

John (Savage): He is the son of the director. When the director went to the savage reservation, his chick got pregnant and got lost and had John. John grew up on the savage reservation. John is a savage but knows a lot about Utopia because his mom told him.

Linda: Johnís mom, and the lady who the director got pregnant. When she visited the reservation, she fell and got lost. The director went back to Utopia without her. She gives birth to John. In the end she dies because she overdoses on the drug Soma.

PLOT

This book doesnít really have a straightforward plot. Itís just a bunch of different ideas about what a perfect society would be like, according to the author.

The beginning of the book describes the world they live in, Utopia. The director of "Hatcheries and Conditioning" talks about how their world works. They fertilize human female eggs, and babies grow in bottles. People control how babies are born and who the babies are. There are 5 classes of people. Alphas are the top class, Epsilons are the lowest. All the babies are kinda regulated by the government -- they control how the person will think and how smart the person is. They condition these babies to love life and like their job.

The Controller talks about Utopia. He is one of 10 dudes who run the world. There are many principles in the society. One important thing is that the leaders donít teach people about history because they donít want people to be influenced by things in the past enough to try and change stuff in the present. Another big principle is that people have no emotions. They are given a drug called Soma which makes them permanently happy. Lastly, being in love is a crime, but having sex is okay.

Then a story starts. Bernard Marx (main dude) is in the Alpha class. He loves this chick named Lenina Crowne. She works in the embryo room and is dating a scientist. She has a friend named Fanny who tells her to date other men. She likes Bernard, but doesnít love him. Poor guy. She follows the law that you canít love. Bernard is a bit weird in that heís different than most of the people in the alpha class. He has a friend named Helmholtz Watson who is good at everything, but hates his job, which is writing propaganda.

Then Bernard takes Lenina to some savage reservation in North America. The Director of Utopia tells them about his trip to the reservation. He tells them he brought some chick (Linda) who disappeared when they were there. Then the director gets pissed at Bernard because Bernard is a non-conformist (he doesnít do what everyone else is doing). Bernard and Lenina go to the reservation. They meet this savage named John. Turns out John is the son of the director. Bernard figures out that the woman the director brought to the reservation got pregnant. Getting pregnant is against the law in Utopia so the director doesnít talk about it. The woman got lost while on the reservation and had to stay there and give birth there. John has only heard about Utopia. He likes to read Shakespeare.

Bernard brings John and his mom back to Utopia. The Director tries to get Bernard kicked out, but when he shows everyone the woman who the director got pregnant and his son, they laugh at the director. Everyone is curious about the savage (John). His mom (Linda) goes into a coma. John goes around and sees the sites but he doesnít like Utopia.

Then everyone thinks that Lenina is doing it with John the savage. She isnít though. Even though he has fallen in love with her, he is a romantic so he doesnít wanna have sex too soon. She wants him in a big way, and comes over to his place and strips. He kicks her out and calls her a whore.

Then John finds out his mom is sick. He goes to the hospital and is sad. But the main dudes of Utopia donít like his display of emotion because they teach everyone to be happy and that death is a happy thing. John, Bernard, and Bernardís friend, Helmholtz are arrested. The Controller explains to them what Utopia is all about. Bernard is exiled to Iceland (between USA and England), Helmholtz is sent to the Falkland Islands (off South America), and John is kept in England. John is made to live a life of solitude. All the Utopians wanna kill John. Lenina joins them, and John kills himself.

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER

CHAPTER 1

  • The first chapter describes Utopia from the point of view of a camera.
  • The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning explains the rules of this world to some students.
  • The Director talks about the reproduction process in which they take a womanís ovary and a guyís sperm and put them in a bottle and artificially produce a baby.
  • The Director then explains that all of the genes are played with so that they can control what each baby will be like. They control how smart or skilled each baby will be.
  • Lenina Crowne is a chick who works as a technician in the "embryo room."
  • Utopia is all about perfection, and controlling the human race to create a perfect environment.

CHAPTER 2

  • The Director shows his students how they brainwash babies by showing them things that they donít want them to like. When the babies go near whatever it is, they get a shock.
  • The Director wants all humans to be efficient. So he trains them to hate stuff like art, flowers, and most fun things. He thinks these are all distractions.
  • Utopian religion isnít based on God and the Bible, but on Henry Ford (inventor of car) and his cars.
  • Then the Director tells the students about how they teach people to behave. They brainwash them by giving them subliminal messages while they sleep. It is called Hynopaedia. The Director says some Polish kid discovered it.
  • Then the Director talks about the different classes. In order from highest class to lowest class: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons (these are Greek letters).
  • The Director says he uses the brainwashing technique to teach each person in a specific class to like their place in society and not to hate anyone else.

CHAPTER 3

  • The Director talks about how sex is allowed and encouraged. The government wants people to have sex with lots of different people because it is fun. However, they are not allowed to get married or be in love. So being a whore is a GOOD thing.
  • This guy named Mustapha Mond comes in (Resident Controller). He talks to the students about how history is stupid. They donít want people to know about history because it might affect what they do in the present.
  • Mond then talks about how families are evil (fathers and mothers) and that marriage is an evil thing, too.
  • The story then switches to Lenina Crowne. She talks with her friend, Fanny. They pop some hormone pills (substitute for the hormones you get during pregnancy). We learn that Lenina is sleeping with this dude named Henry Foster.
  • Then Bernard Marx comes into the story. Bernard is a rebel, and believes in love (even though itís illegal). He loves Lenina.
  • Bernard takes a Soma pill, which is a happy pill. Bernard is a small dude, a little too small to be in the Alpha class. He is small because of some screw-up during his scientific conception.
  • The Controller talks about how the pill makes you happy and stay young forever.

CHAPTER 4

  • This chapter starts out with Lenina hitting on Bernard in the elevator. She is a complete slut, but thatís a good thing in Utopia.
  • Bernard goes to see his pal, Helmholtz, who is a writer. The two guys are similar in that they both are kinda sad, even though everyone else is happy.
  • Helmholtz is a stud. He is good at everything
  • The guys talk and Bernard becomes paranoid. He thinks someone is watching them but finds out nobody is there.

CHAPTER 5

  • Lenina and Henry Foster go on a date to play golf. Henry tells her that dead people are burned so that people can take their phosphorus.
  • They go back to Henryís place and get it on. Lenina takes birth control stuff because pregnancy is against the law in Utopia.
  • Bernard goes to Utopian church. It is called a solidarity service. Bernard hates it because everyone is so happy and he is not.
  • Then all the people at the service have sex. Bernard does not enjoy it.

CHAPTER 6

  • Lenina and Bernard get ready to go to North America to visit the savage reservations (where savages live).
  • Lenina thinks Bernard is a weirdo because heís a loner and is always sad.
  • She also thinks heís weird because heís a rebel and doesnít want to follow the rules of Utopia.
  • Bernard takes some Soma pills (to get high) and he does the nasty with Lenina. Even though heís just allowed to have sex with her, he tells her he wants to fall in love with her (illegal in Utopia).
  • They get ready for the trip. The Director tells Bernard how he took a chick there 25 years ago. She got lost and was never found. He thinks she died. Then the Director gets mad because he has told Bernard too much about the past. He threatens to send him to Iceland.
  • They go to N America. Bernard calls Hemlholtz back home. Helmholtz tells Bernard that the Director is shipping him (Bernard) to Iceland.

CHAPTER 7

  • Bernard and Lenina notice how different the reservation is than Utopia. The reservation is a disgusting place with no order.
  • All the people on the reservation are Indians. But they meet this guy (John) who has blonde hair (not an Indian).
  • The blonde dude turns out to be the son of the Director. The chick he brought 25 years back was pregnant and is still alive. The Director probably covered up the whole thing because pregnancy is against the law.
  • The guy shows Bernard and Lenina his house and his mom.

CHAPTER 8

  • John is half Utopian, half Savage. He tells Bernard and Lenina his life story.
  • He tells them the beginning years were tough because the Indians treated him and his mom like crap since they were outsiders. They had to go through all the rituals to become native Indians.
  • John then says it was cool because he learned about a lot of stuff he would have never learned in Utopia.
  • John says he read a lot of Shakespeare and that that is how he learned English. Bernard and Lenina donít really know Shakespeare because of not being allowed to know any historical stuff.

CHAPTER 9

  • Lenina takes Soma to get high because she is so disturbed by visiting the savage reservation
  • Bernard calls London and talks to Controller Mond. He tells him the whole story about John being the Directorís son. Bernard does this because he wants more power and to get a higher ranking.
  • John falls in love with Lenina. But even though, in her culture, sex is a good thing, John is a romantic and doesnít want to have sex with her... yet.

CHAPTER 10

  • Bernard, Lenina, John and his mom (Linda) go back to London, to Utopia.
  • When they return, the Director is getting ready to punish Bernard for being a rebel. He wants to send him to Iceland (exile)
  • Bernard has a little surprise for the Director. He shows him Linda and his son John.
  • Linda and John approach the Director and John calls him father. The Director is embarrassed and gets disgusted and runs out of the room.

CHAPTER 11

  • Everyone in Utopia hates Linda because she got pregnant (a sin, and against the law). But they all want to meet John the savage.
  • Bernard is suddenly really popular because he takes care of John. All the women throw themselves at Bernard. He is a sellout because he loves being a celebrity.
  • Bernard then takes John to see all the sights. John thinks the movies are disgusting because they promote sex. He thinks he's a real gentleman for waiting to have sex with Lenina, even though Lenina wants to do him ASAP.

CHAPTER 12

  • Bernard gets important people to come see John the savage. John becomes stubborn and doesnít want to meet them.
  • The people pretend to be friends with Bernard to get close to John. They use him.
  • Bernard goes back to his old self, disliking Utopia.

CHAPTER 13

  • Lenina is pissed because John doesnít want to have hot sex with her.
  • Lenina goes to Johnís place to shag him.
  • John sees her and tells her he loves her. He talks about marriage (Remember, heís a savage and doesnít know the ways of Utopia).
  • She takes off her clothes and tries to get him to have sex. John doesnít want sex, and he calls her a whore.

CHAPTER 14

  • Johnís mom is sick and in the hospital. He goes to be with her.
  • Some kids from the Delta class come in to watch Linda die (part of their mental conditioning program to learn that death is not a bad thing) John gets pissed that people are watching his mom die.
  • Linda dies and John is really upset. The kids see a very unnatural emotion (sadness when someone dies). But a nurse tells them that death is a HAPPY event.

CHAPTER 15

  • John then tries to tell the Delta kids that Soma is an evil drug and tries to get them to understand real freedom. John throws away a bunch of Soma pills
  • Bernard and Helmholtz come to the hospital to calm John down. There is a small riot because people are mad that John threw away the Soma pills.
  • Order is restored.

CHAPTER 16

  • John goes to talk to the Controller. The Controller tells him that Shakespeare evil because it has certain feeling in it that might make people forget about Utopia, or think less of it.
  • Then the Controller talks about the social system. He says that there have to be Epsilons (lowest class) because they do all the dirty work (cleaning toilets, washing dishes, etc.)
  • The Controller gets mad at Bernard, John, and Helmholtz because they didnít obey the law.
  • He banishes Bernard to Iceland and Helmholtz to the Falkland Islands.

CHAPTER 17

  • The Controller then punishes John.
  • John keeps arguing how Utopia is deprived of art and science and because of that, Utopia sucks.
  • John and the Controller argue about God. John says that people who are alone need God, but Mond (Controller) says that the people in Utopia are NEVER alone.
  • John tells him that the people in Utopia are not real people because they canít experience emotions. John then says that to live is to experience unhappiness, sadness, and everything.

CHAPTER 18

  • John throws up because he is sick that he lives in such a crappy place (Utopia).
  • John then asks the Controller to banish him to some remote island. The Controller keeps him in England to do experiments on him.
  • John goes and lives in some warehouse. People find him and harass him because they are curious about him.
  • John starts to feel horny for Lenina and he feels guilty because he is giving into lust instead of romance.
  • Some tourists show up to look at John. Lenina is one of the tourists. John is doing some savage religious ritual where he whips himself.
  • Then he starts whipping Lenina. John becomes possessed by strong emotion.
  • The next day he feels guilty that he is becoming like one of the sex-crazed Utopians and he kills himself.

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • This novel poses the question of freedom versus security. The people in Utopia have friends and a sense of safety, but are not able to think for themselves or experience emotion.
  • This book was written in 1931. Consider Huxleyís writing about genetic engineering only several years before the Holocaust (part of WWII Ė see Schoolbytes history section for more info).
  • How does joy fit in with responsibility? In this perfect world, the people had no sense of responsibility. They lived carefree doing drugs (Soma) and having sex.
  • The title could have many different meanings. Think about the irony that this "New world" could be considered a "brave world." With forced security, where nothing goes wrong, does bravery really have a role? Would it be braver to live free and not know the outcome to everything?
  • Without emotions, how real is any given situation or experience?
  • Compare Utopia with the savage reservation Ė is there a medium, a place with some security and clean way of life, without the strict rules and control of Utopia?