Summary: Chapter 9

Lenina, disgusted by the Reservation, takes enough soma to incapacitate herself for eighteen hours. Bernard flies to Santa Fé to call Mustapha Mond. He repeats his story to a succession of secretaries before finally reaching the World Controller. Mond agrees that John and Linda are a matter of scientific interest to the World State. He instructs Bernard to visit the Warden of the Reservation to pick up the orders that will release John and Linda into his care. Meanwhile, fearful that Bernard and Lenina have left without him, John breaks into the cabin where Lenina is still on soma-holiday. He rifles through her things before he finds her passed out on the bed. He gazes at her, quietly quoting passages from Romeo and Juliet. He wants to touch her but fears that it would defile her. As he gazes at her, Bernard’s helicopter approaches, and John is able to run from the house and hide his trespass.

Summary: Chapter 10

Back at the Hatchery, the Director tells Henry that he plans to dismiss Bernard in front of dozens of high-caste workers as a public example. He explains that Bernard’s unorthodox behavior threatens stability. Sacrificing one individual for the greater good of the society is no great loss since the Hatchery can churn out dozens of new babies.

When Bernard arrives, the Director declares Bernard “heretical” because he refuses to behave like an infant and does not immediately seek to gratify his own desires. He tells Bernard that he is being transferred to Iceland. But then Bernard presents Linda and John. Linda accuses the Director of making her have a baby and the room suddenly falls silent. John falls at the Director’s feet and cries, “My father!” The workers break out into peals of hysterical laughter as the Director rushes from the room.

Analysis: Chapters 9 & 10

In these chapters, the interlude at the Reservation ends and John’s life in the World State begins. The conflict between John’s values and the social mores of the World State starts to become obvious. The shift of setting, from the Reservation in New Mexico to the World State in England, foreshadows the shift that is about to take place in the lives of both John and Bernard.

Read more about the contrast between the World State and the Reservation.

John’s character is revealed more fully in his confrontations with World State culture. His struggle to suppress his desire to touch Lenina demonstrates the moral code that he has internalized from Shakespeare and from the “savages” on the Reservation. A World State resident would have gone for instant gratification. John finds himself in the unenviable position of living in the World State without World State conditioning. He is attracted to Lenina, but his views on sex are so radically different from hers that conflict is inevitable. The struggle between John’s intense desires and his equally intense self-control is a major facet of his character.

John’s habit of quoting lines from Shakespeare’s plays not only highlights his distance from World State society, it also serves as a reminder of the distance between our society, in which Shakespeare is revered as a writer with deep insight into human nature, and World State society, in which Shakespeare is unknown and even incomprehensible.

Read more about why John quotes Shakespeare.

Stylistically, John’s Shakespearean quotations contrast vividly with the utterances of the World State citizens. But there is one notable similarity between them. Both the World State citizens and John habitually speak in quotes and soundbites. Hypnopaedic messages like “A gramme in time saves nine,” are on everybody’s lips in the World State. At times the conversations between John and Lenina degenerate into a war of propaganda, each person spewing memorized phrases without even stopping to think about them. John’s propaganda sounds more palatable than Lenina’s, because Shakespeare’s poetic lines put the hypnopaedic messages to shame. Next to Shakespeare, “progress is lovely” sounds cheap and trashy. The juxtaposition of the two contributes to the satirical tone of the novel.

The confrontation between Bernard and the Director illustrates the power of social condemnation. The Director decides to denounce Bernard in front of the other workers in order to make an example out of him. In part, World State members are forced to conform merely by peer pressure and the threat of public shame. Bernard turns the Director’s ploy on its head by shaming him with the spectacle of John and Linda. Bernard’s willingness to use John and Linda for his own gain further helps to portray him as someone who will do anything to gain social standing. By presenting Linda and John to the Director in front of the workers, he not only manages to save his own position but also to spitefully attack the Director and reduce his social standing.

Read more about how Bernard takes advantage of John.

Lenina’s role throughout this chapter is a passive one, for the obvious reason that she is on soma-holiday for most of it. Going on soma-holiday is her only way of dealing with the negative emotions aroused by the Reservation. It is particularly ironic that she goes on soma-holiday in the middle of what should have been a real holiday (her vacation).

Read more about soma as a symbol.