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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley
Summary Chapters 4–6
Summary Chapters 4–6

A gramme in time saves nine . . . One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments . . . Everybody’s happy nowadays . . .

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Lenina and Bernard travel to the Reservation. When they present themselves to the Warden to get his signature on the permit, he launches into a long series of facts about the place. Bernard suddenly remembers that he left the scent tap on at his apartment, an oversight that could end up being extremely expensive. He endures the Warden’s seemingly endless speech and then hurries to phone Helmholtz to ask him to turn off the tap for him. Helmholtz has bad news: he tells Bernard that the Director is planning to carry out his threat of exiling him to Iceland. Bernard is no longer proud and rebellious now that the Director’s threat has become a reality. Instead, the news crushes and frightens him. Lenina persuades him to take soma.

Analysis: Chapters 4–6

Bernard’s role as the protagonist—a role that John will later take over—continues in this section. Increasingly, he appears less like a political rebel and more like a social misfit who believes that changing society is the only way for him to fit in. His conversations with Helmholtz reveal that he is boastful of his liaison with Lenina, afraid of being caught criticizing the World State, and subservient to Helmholtz when it comes to matters of real rebellion. Bernard is a paradoxical character, at one moment lusting after Lenina and at the next hoping that he will have the strength to resist her advances.

Helmholtz, whom we meet for the first time in this section, has the exact opposite of Bernard’s problem. Whereas Bernard is too small and strange for his caste, Helmholtz is, if anything, too perfect. His success with women, in his career, and in every other aspect of his life has led him to believe that there must be something more to life than high-tech sports, easy sex, and repetitive slogans. He talks to Bernard because Bernard shares his dislike for the system, but he is aware that Bernard’s dislike has a different basis than his own.

The setting of these chapters changes rapidly: from the workplace to Helmholtz’s apartment; from Henry’s helicopter to Westminster Abbey Cabaret to a crematorium; from Bernard’s apartment to the Community Singery; and so on. Some of the scene-shifting is simply used to flesh out a day in the life of a World State member. Lenina and Henry’s visit to the Westminster Abbey Cabaret is a blunt joke about the uses to which the World State puts ancient religious sites.

Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one. Even Epsilons are useful. We couldn’t do without Epsilons.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

As Henry and Lenina contemplate the crematorium, they come close to acknowledging that the caste system may be less than perfect. But then Lenina, troubled and disliking, retreats to one of her stock hypnopaedic phrases, regains her happiness, and the crisis is over. Once again, she is happy to be in her caste and disdainful of those in other castes. This episode, made possible by the setting of a helicopter trip past a crematorium, shows how conditioning can keep the population from questioning the assumptions of the state in which they live. The biggest change in setting is from the World State to the Reservation, though a detailed description of the Reservation is held until the next section.

Although the World State most obviously controls its members by conditioning them and gratifying their desires, there are hints that stability is maintained through methods that are still more sinister. Bernard’s sudden fear that someone is listening to his heretical conversation with Helmholtz suggests a totalitarian aspect of the World State. Outside work hours, World State citizens attend strictly regulated, scheduled social activities and never spend any time alone. The lack of time for reflection keeps them occupied and docile. Bernard’s fear shows that he is aware of the unwritten but potentially serious consequences of his heretical beliefs.