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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Chapters 7–8

Summary Chapters 7–8

Summary: Chapter 7

At the Reservation, Lenina watches a community celebration. The pounding of the drums reminds her of Solidarity Services and Ford’s Day celebrations. The images of an eagle and a man on a cross are raised, and a youth walks into the center of a pile of writhing snakes. A man whips him, drawing blood until the youth collapses. Lenina is horrified.

John, a handsome blond youth in Indian dress, surprises Lenina and Bernard by speaking perfect English. He says that he wanted to be the sacrifice, but the town would not let him. He explains that his mother, Linda, came from the Other Place outside the Reservation. During a visit to the Reservation, she fell and suffered an injury, but was rescued by some Indians who found her and brought her to the village, where she has lived ever since. His father, also from the Other Place, was named Tomakin. Bernard realizes that “Tomakin” is actually Thomas, the Director, but says nothing for the moment.

John introduces Lenina and Bernard to his mother, Linda. Wrinkled, overweight, and missing teeth, she disgusts Lenina. Linda explains that John was born because something went wrong with her contraceptives. She could not get an abortion on the Reservation and felt too ashamed to go back to the World State with a baby. Linda explains that, after starting her new life in the Indian village, she followed all her conditioning and slept with any man she pleased, but some women beat her for taking their men to bed.

Summary: Chapter 8

John tells Bernard that he grew up listening to Linda’s fabulous stories about the Other Place. But he also felt isolated and rejected, partly because his mother slept with so many men and partly because the people of the village never accepted him. Linda took a lover, Popé, who brought her an alcoholic drink called mescal. She began drinking heavily. Meanwhile, despite being forbidden from taking part in the Indian’s rituals, John absorbed the culture around him. Linda taught him to read, at first by drawing on the wall and later using a guide for Beta Embryo-Store Workers that she had happened to bring with her. He asked her questions about the World State, but she could tell him very little about how it worked. One day, Popé brought The Complete Works of Shakespeare to Linda’s house. John read it avidly until he could quote passages by heart. The plays gave voice to all of his repressed emotions.

Bernard asks John if he would like to go to London with him. He has an ulterior motive that he keeps to himself: he wants to embarrass the Director by exposing him as John’s father. John accepts the proposal, but insists that Linda be allowed to go with him. Bernard promises to seek permission to take both of them. John quotes a line from The Tempest to express his feelings of joy at finally getting to see the Other World that he had heard about as a child: “O brave new world that has such people in it.” Blushing, he asks if Bernard is married to Lenina. Bernard laughs and tells him that he certainly is not. He also cautions John to wait until he sees the World State before he becomes enraptured with it.

Analysis: Chapters 7–8

These chapters contain a crucial plot development: the meeting of Bernard and John. John is an outcast who has always dreamed of living in the World State; Bernard is a World State misfit who is looking for some way to fit in. Their meeting sets in motion a chain of events that produces shattering consequences for both of them.