Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
Contributed by Sharen Felty
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Chapter 13-15
Summary

Summary: Chapter 13

Lenina declines when Henry asks her to come to a feely. He sees that she is upset and indicates that she might require a “Violent Passion Surrogate” (or V.P.S). She later tells Fanny that she does not know what it would be like to have sex with a savage. Fanny informs her that it is inappropriate to be so obsessed about one man. She says that she ought to look for someone else to help her focus on other thoughts. Lenina indicates that John is the only one she wants and that other men will not be able to distract her. Lenina takes a bit of soma and goes to visit John. She means to seduce him. She says that he does not seem pleased that she has visited him. After falling to his knees, John starts quoting lines from Shakespeare to express his love. He talks of marriage and says that he loves her. She asks him why he has gone so long without saying anything about his feelings. She is horrified, however, by what he says about lifelong commitment.

Lenina starts to take off her clothes as she presses her body against John. This terrifies the man, making him angry. He slaps her and calls her a whore. Lenina goes into the bathroom and locks the door. John acts out King Lear’s furious tirade against women and biological procreation (King Lear, IV. vi. 120-127). He answers the phone when it rings. Lenina hears him leaving his apartment.

Summary: Chapter 14

John rushes to Park Lane Hospital for the Dying. He impatiently tells a nurse that he needs to see his mother. The nurse is scandalized by the word mother and blushes. She brings John to Linda. In tears, John sits beside his mother. He tries to think about the happy times they have experienced together. A group of Bokanvosky boys, all eight years old, gather around. They ask Linda why she is so ugly and fat. John strikes one of the children and the nurse becomes angry. She attacks him for getting in the way of the children’s death conditioning and brings the boys away.

Linda thinks that John is Popé. He becomes angry and shakes her. John demands that his mother recognize that he is her son. After she says his name, she starts reciting a hypnopaedic phrase that she learned in childhood. She then starts to choke. John hurries off to the nurse to beg for help. By the time they arrive back, Linda has already died. John deeply sobs. The nurse is only worried about how the children’s death conditioning has been affected. She gives chocolate éclairs to the children. One of the twins asks John whether Linda is “dead,” pointing at her body. John hurries out of the ward after pushing the child to the ground.

Summary: Chapter 15

John sees two Bokanovsky groups of Delta twins in the hospital vestibule. The groups are picking up their rations of soma after their shift. He recalls some lines from Shakespeare with bitter irony: “How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world.” “O brave new world” continues to echo within John’s head. He shouts for the groups to stop trying to get their soma rations. He declares that is only poison that will turn them into slaves. He tells them to choose freedom, instead. The man who is handing out the soma calls Bernard, who is at home. Helmholtz is the one who answers the phone. He tells Bernard about what John has said. They head to the hospital.  

John finds the confused faces of the Delta workers infuriating. He hurls the rations of soma out of a window. In a fury, the Deltas charge at him. Helmholtz arrives. He jumps among everyone to try to end the fray and protect John. Bernard hesitates in doing this. He realizes that Helmholtz and John might end up dead if he does not help but he is afraid of being killed himself. He finds himself feeling ashamed at his indecision. When the police arrive, they spray soma vapor as well as a potent anesthetic. In the meantime, a recorded voice inquires why the upset people are not happy together. Before much time has passed, the Deltas are kissing each other, crying, and apologizing. There is quick restoration of their rations of soma. The police ask for John and Helmholtz to come with them quietly. Bernard attempts to sneak out the door unobserved. He is caught, however.

Analysis

The riot that John creates is the novel’s climax. The increasing revulsion that John feels against everything in World State society finally pushes him into a dramatic confrontation with it. The authorities intervene. The events that happen immediately before the riot show how forces in conflict end up causing John’s outburst.

The difficulty John has in denying his physical desires, which were first introduced when still on the Reservation, continues at the point when Lenina tries seducing him. He is determined to see Lenina as pure and virginal. He wants her to have the utmost of sexual modesty. For John, Lenina is merely an abstract manifestation of the virtuous women he had seen in the works of Shakespeare. His struggle with the physical aspects of sexuality lead him to wanting to entirely repress it. He calls Lenina a whore when she makes a pass at him. He calls her this name because she has transgressed a moral code that she does not even know exists. John only has two categories in which he can put Lenina, and “whore” is the second one. It is notable that when he hides away from Lenina, he selects Othello for his reading material. The storyline of Othello is of an ill-fated relationship between a white Venetian woman and a black African man. Similar to John, Othello tends to veer between extremes in his perception of women. He either sees his beloved as a chaste image of modesty or a whore, with nothing in between. It is this mental distortion that causes Othello to kill his wife.

The experiences John has in the Hospital for the Dying shows that the World State applies a dehumanizing logic to death. If he had felt any tolerance for the World State’s people and practices before, it evaporates at this point. He sees the Bokanovsky twins as maggots and believes that they defile his grief. Sadly for John, Linda is no help. She is drugged on soma and thinks that he is Popé. John is furious and feels agony as he realizes that he is not recognized by his own mother. World State society has called him “the Savage,” linking him to a variety of stereotypical characteristics. When he goes to Eton, he sees children laughing at the sight of “savages” on a Reservation in a movie they are watching carrying out ceremonial self-flagellation for purification. He perceives himself being reflected in the children’s laughter as being a comedic spectacle instead of a human being. Bernard uses John, setting him forth as a fascinating example of “savagery” in order to attract the people he wants into his social circle. The fact that Helmholtz laughs at Romeo and Juliet leads John to realize that the struggle he has with his physical desire for Lenina would be seen as ridiculous even by a nonconformist. Worse than that is the reality that he thinks of Helmholtz as a friend and someone with whom he can talk about his feelings. The consequence of all of these episodes is that John realizes that as an individual, he is unable to exist in World State society. He is compelled to either represent the stereotype of “the savage” or to give in to the World State’s warped moral system.

When John tries to get the Delta workers to rebel by taking away their soma, we see symbolized his fight against happiness being seen as the most important goal. John would prefer to see real human relationships and truth, even if it is painful, than the near-slavery that soma creates. The death of his own mother by soma is a factor that contributes to this feeling. Soma is used by Linda and the Deltas to escape all responsibility and pain. This causes them to think and act in an infantile way. This is something that John calls attention to when he asks why the Deltas want to be “babies…mewling and puking.” Most World State citizens remain like children for their entire lives through the use of conditioning, soma, and social reinforcement.

While Helmholtz immediately goes into the fray at the hospital, Bernard holds back. He hesitates because of his wish to fit into the social machine of the World state and his desire to alter its workings. He feels apprehensive of becoming linked to nonconforming blasphemy. Bernard is aware that taking part in this will make him forever marked as a subversive.

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