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Free Study Guide: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Free BookNotes

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BRAVE NEW WORLD: PLOT SUMMARY / CHAPTER NOTES

CHAPTER 4

Summary

Lenina accosts Bernard in the elevator, which is full of Alphas. She expresses her desire to go with him to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico. Bernard is so overwhelmed by her forwardness that he can only stammer out a reply. He obviously does not wish to discuss personal matters in public, which surprises and amuses Lenina. She asks him to specify the place of departure and to give her a week's notice. Lenina then hastens away to join Foster for a game of obstacle golf. Bernard remains behind, looking so pained that Benito Hoover offers him some soma. Bernard simply rushes away.

Lenina and Foster fly above London in their helicopter. During the flight, Lenina gives a description of the various activities being pursued by the castes in the city below. At the same time, Bernard flies toward the Propaganda House to meet Helmholtz Watson. It is revealed that Bernard harbors a complex because of his lack of the usual Alpha height. In his world, physical stature signifies social superiority. Since he is short, he is extremely self-conscious and feels an outsider among his equals and an object of scorn among his inferiors.

Bernard meets Watson at the college of Emotional Engineering. In contrast to Bernard, Watson is "every centimeter an Alpha-Plus;" he is handsome, well-built, extremely intelligent, and much sought after by women. As a lecturer at the College, he writes for the Alpha newspaper and has a way with words. His only drawback as a person is an individualistic streak in a world where conformity is the norm; he suffers from being "a little too able." The two men are very aware of their differences and their mutual discontent and discuss them in privacy. Watson is unable to voice the exact nature or cause of his unhappiness, but he is certain that there is something in him seeking an outlet. Bernard, fully aware of what causes his misery, indulges in self-pity and justifies his nerves almost tearfully. Although Watson is somewhat sympathetic to Bernard, he also holds him in contempt for his weakness.


Notes

Again in this chapter, the impersonal, sophisticated high-technology nature of the brave, new world is revealed. Although Lenina approaches Bernard to tell him she wants to go to the Savage Reservation, he is incapable of responding to her emotions; in fact, his pained expression clearly reveals that he is uncomfortable about her straightforwardness. Lenina, on the other hand, has little depth of emotion. Totally unaware of Bernard's response to her, she rushes off to a date with Foster.

During the chapter, Huxley again emphasizes the automated advances that color the brave new world. Lenina and Foster travel in a personal helicopter, and the offices of the "Propaganda Bureau" and "Emotional Engineering College" function with scientific efficiency. In spite of the seeming precision of the new world, there are again definite undercurrents of rebellion depicted. Bernard and Watson, for very different reasons, are uncomfortable with the world of conformity that surrounds them. Bernard suffers from a significant inferiority complex because of his small size; in contrast, Watson is almost too perfect to fit in with the dull conformity around him. At the end of the chapter, there is a sense of uneasiness over the discontent that Bernard and Watson express.


CHAPTER 5

Summary

The first part of this chapter centers on Lenina and Foster, who are returning from their game of golf. Once again a bird's eye-view of London is presented, this time at night. As they fly over the city, landmarks are singled out, one of which is the Slough Crematorium; the technology inside it is so advanced that they are able to recover phosphorus from the corpses. Lenina comments that in death all the castes become equal and useful. Foster reminds her that all people in the brave, new world are physically and chemically equal. The two of them then dutifully repeat the conditioned response, "Everybody's happy now." They land the helicopter on the roof of Foster's house and have dinner. Fortified by soma, Lenina and Foster dance all night in a warm haze.

In the same chapter, Bernard takes leave of Watson and heads toward the Fordson Community Surgery, which has a huge auditorium meant for Ford's Day celebrations and Community Sings. Bernard thinks about it being Solidarity Service day for him; he will meet in a group of twelve people whose purpose is to lose their separate identities and fuse together. The service is preceded by a sign of the T, followed by synthetic music. Everyone present has some soma and sings to become "one." On every twelfth strain of the song, more soma is taken. Before long, they all seem to be on a high. They drink to his imminence, "His Coming," almost like the twelve apostles before the resurrection. Before long, they claim to sense Ford's presence; imagining that they hear his feet, they dance in a circular procession, as a version of Georgy-Porgie is sung in a litany. Before long, they fall into spine poses in a state of calm ecstasy; they believe that they have experienced rapture. Bernard pretends throughout the entire ceremony, never entering into the spirit of it all. Feeling totally alienated, he is self-conscious and miserable.

Notes

This chapter provides further glimpses into the lifestyles of the different castes, especially the Alphas. Life seems to be a programmed world of fun and frolic, where everything follows a set pattern with even the responses being rehearsed. The euphoric mood seems to be always soma-induced. Some of the descriptions ring frighteningly contemporary rather than futuristic; since the novel was published in 1932, the future depicted could really be the current past. In fact, the references to monorails, jet-hopping, drugged merriment, and community orgies are no longer fantasies.

Once again Bernard strikes a note of discord in this made-to-order world. Although he attends the Solidarity Service, meant to bring people together and to fuse them into oneness, Bernard only pretends to participate in it. Never really involved, he feels self-conscious and apart.


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