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

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BRAVE NEW WORLD: LITERARY ANALYSIS / BOOK REVIEW

CHAPTER 6

Summary

Lenina again thinks about Bernard's odd nature and has second thoughts about accompanying him to the Reservation; but she really thinks it is too rare an opportunity to miss. Also, the alternative, to go to the North Pole with Benito Hoover, is certainly not exciting. As she thinks of some of Bernard's traits, she realizes he seeks isolation, while everyone else is conditioned to be social. Bernard spurns normal physical activities, like golf and swimming; he also rejects soma as an escape mechanism, preferring to be "himself and nasty" rather than artificially jolly. His desire for individuality, to be something more than "just a cell in the social body," upsets and puzzles Lenina. Once when Bernard takes soma and behaves normally, he regrets it the next day and bemoans his emotional immaturity.


Prior to his departure for New Mexico, Bernard seeks the Director to initial the permit, allowing him and Lenina to go. Although the Director's dislike of Bernard is obvious, he cannot refuse the permit, since the Controller has agreed to it. When the Director notices Bernard's destination, he talks about the events of twenty years ago, when he had visited the same reservation with a Beta-minus woman. When she got lost, he returned without her. It is evident that the memory still haunts him. Bernard is at first surprised, then uncomfortable, at this discussion about a remote past. He feels that the Director should know better than to discuss personal history. The Director suddenly stops his story, recovering his composure. Displeased at his own weakness, he takes it out on Bernard by threatening him with a transfer to Iceland unless he quickly learns to conform to the rules of the new world. Bernard, not believing that such a transfer would ever occur, turns and leaves. He later boasts to Watson that he had defied the Director and walked out on him.

After an uneventful journey, Bernard and Lenina arrive at the Reservation. Fortified by soma, they listen to the Warden's excessively lengthy description of the place and manage to give uncomprehending, but correct, responses to his questions. The Warden makes it clear why the people on the reservation are "savages." He explains that they were once Christians. Now they still speak "dead" languages and cling to old values and social institutions, like marriage, family, and bearing children. When he is through with his explanations, the Warden allows Bernard and Lenina to leave, but only after he has warned them that the fences enclosing the Reservation are all electric ones.

Bernard telephones Watson to ask him to shut off the scent in his apartment. During their conversation, Watson tells Bernard that the Director's threat about Iceland is not an empty one. Suddenly Bernard feels upset, almost defeated. Lenina advises him to live in the present rather than thinking on the past or worrying about the future. Bernard takes some soma and calms down. The next thing he knows, he and Lenina are in the Valley of Malpais, where a young savage is waiting to serve as their guide.

Notes

The contrast between Bernard and the others of his world is further clarified in this chapter. Not only is he odd, he is fighting against all regimentation. He refuses to dismiss his history and ignore the future, for he is uncomfortable living in the present. He also refuses to indulge in the usual pastimes, reflecting Huxley's own distaste for mass entertainment. Bernard's rebellion, however, is more bravado than bravery.

Several things about the reservation are interesting. When the Director tells Bernard about his past on the Reservation, it prepares the reader for the interesting things that Lenina and he will discover about the Director during their visit. The Warden's explanation of the "savages" is also interesting. The people living on the reservation are condemned for the very qualities and customs that are a cherished part of "normal" contemporary society. In the Warden, Huxley uses the ironic device of the "obtuse mask," whereby he expresses views opposed to the author's own though apparently meant to win over the reader.


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