Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Chapters 17–18

Summary Chapters 17–18

The last section of the novel consists of John’s departure to the lighthouse to punish himself. His self-flagellation is a desperate attempt to hold onto his own values—truth over happiness among others—in the face of overwhelming pressure from the world around him. Lenina Crowne symbolizes that pressure. John feels a powerful sexual attraction to her, a temptation to give in to the “pleasant vices” that he finds so loathsome and prevalent in World State society. When she arrives along with the chanting crowd, his resolve collapses and, when he wakes the next morning, his realization that he has succumbed to the very thing he was most set against drives him to kill himself.

The language of these chapters continues in the same tone as in the rest of the book: it is a mixture, at times awkward, of didacticism, satire, and farce. The later chapters have a more serious and didactic tone, particularly in the conversation between John and Mustapha, when issues of free will, morality, God, and society come to the fore. In the last chapter, John’s frantic self-flagellation contrasts with the superficiality of the gawking reporters and crowds that come to watch him at the lighthouse. The comparison between the two groups symbolizes the basic difference between John and the society in which he finds himself.