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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Chapters 9–10

Summary Chapters 9–10

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.

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.