Brave New World does not make heavy or overt use of foreshadowing. Though many of the earlier events in the novel directly lead to major plot points later, they are not instances of foreshadowing as much as building blocks for plot development. For example, the Director threatens to exile Bernard to Iceland before Bernard visits New Mexico, and he threatens to do so again after Bernard returns. Rather than foreshadowing Bernard’s eventual exile, the Director’s threats are an example of plot development and continuity. The director’s anecdote about his own experience in New Mexico, on the other hand, does foreshadow John and Linda’s plotlines. In addition, the Director’s threats do not quite foreshadow Bernard’s exile, but rather Bernard’s revenge plot and the Director’s resulting resignation.
The director’s relationship to John and Linda
Before Bernard and Lenina go to New Mexico, Bernard meets with the Director and learns that when the Director was Bernard’s age, he also spent time at the Reservation. The Director reveals that during his trip, his female companion became lost in a thunderstorm and was assumed to be dead. When Bernard meets John and hears about Linda, he quickly surmises that Linda is the Director’s lost companion and John is their son. The fact that Linda got pregnant and had a child, even though she was using contraceptives as mandated by the government, suggests that the society of World State is not as infallible as it appears, and mistakes do occasionally happen. That the director feels genuine emotion about his time at the Reservation also hints that true human emotion is still possible for the World State’s citizens.
Bernard’s exile is foreshadowed both directly and indirectly. It is directly foreshadowed when the Director threatens to send him to Iceland after telling Bernard about what happened at the Reservation. It is also indirectly foreshadowed by Bernard’s character and actions. Early in the book, Bernard is talking to Helmholtz about his dissatisfaction when he stops talking abruptly, believing someone is listening at the door. This foreshadows the fact that his attitude will get him in trouble. He also acts unnecessarily rude to his inferiors, because he is self-conscious about his own physical appearance and lack of authority: “feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him.” This foreshadows the way he will become corrupted by fame once he gains power through his relationship with John.
When the reader first sees John, he is bitterly angry that he hasn’t been allowed to take part in a sacrificial ritual intended to summon rain to the Reservation. The ritual involves a boy being whipped until he passes out. Later, John tells Bernard that at one point he considered jumping off a cliff, and spent a day posing with his arms outstretched like Christ. These stories position John as a Christ-like, sacrificial figure, foreshadowing his eventual suicide. Unlike Bernard, who is corrupted by soma and the power of popularity, and Lenina, who is obsessed with her own physical comfort, John cannot morally reconcile World State with his own beliefs, and kills himself rather than living in the “brave new world” he is shown.