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

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This is an emotional chapter with John at the bedside of his dying mother. Once again the difference in the old and new world is clearly depicted. Linda is an anomaly, wrinkled and old in every way. All the others in the Senility Ward have aged only in heart and brain; their appearance is much more youthful than that of the ugly and flabby Linda. As the nurse watches the Savage, she cannot understand John's totally unorthodox grief and is shocked at his use of the word "mother." Neither can she understand his reminiscing about his childhood days with Linda. John is similarly horrified about the children's visit as part of their "death conditioning" as he feels it is a gross intrusion and violently shoos them away.

Linda, in her few conscious moments, thinks that John is Pope, her lover from the Reservation. John is infuriated that he is not recognized, and his grief turns to rage. He grabs his mother and shakes her violently; she gasps for air and chokes. Coming to his sense, John rushes out to find the nurse; by the time he returns, Linda is dead. He breaks down in uncontrollable sorrow and slowly walks out of the ward.


John's relationship with Linda, especially in this chapter set at her deathbed, is highly reminiscent of Hamlet's relationship with his mother; it is a mixture of love and jealousy, pain and resentment. Grief-stricken over the thought of losing her (and his one tie to the old order), John desperately attempts to restore their relationship to a loving and pure one, like he imagined from his childhood. His dream is doomed to failure, for Linda is not capable of truly loving her son; she is too much a product of the new world. In fact, she mistakes John for Pope, her past lover. The Savage truly becomes savage in his grief over his mother's non-recognition. He grabs her and shakes her violently, causing her to choke. Regaining his senses, he goes for help, but it is too late. When he returns, Linda is dead. John is uncontrollable in his sorrow.

In contrast to John's grief, characteristic of the old world, is the matter of fact approach and disbelief of the nurse and the reactions of the children who are more curious than disturbed by death.



On his way out of Park Lane Hospital, John is caught in a crowd of Deltas waiting for their day's ration of soma. He is suddenly struck by the gap between the real and the ideal. He had believed that his mother's civilized new world would by like Miranda's "brave new world" in The Tempest. The reality, however, is a far cry from it. Suddenly, he can no longer tolerate the gap; he decides he must convert the Deltas and convince them of the dangers of their menial situation. Believing himself to be their Messiah, he grabs their ration of soma and throws it out the window. When the Alpha in charge hurries away to get help, the Deltas surround John ominously.

Bernard and Helmholtz have been wondering about John's whereabouts. When they learn of Linda's serious condition, they rush to the hospital. They arrive in time to see John's efforts to help the Deltas. Helmholtz, stimulated by the general air of revolt, joins the effort of the Savage. Bernard, however, remains a distant onlooker. In the end, the police are called; the Deltas are reconditioned to be their docile selves. John and Helmholtz are taken away, along with a reluctant Bernard.


The Savage, obviously reaching the end of his tether, tries to seize control of the pitiful Deltas. He sees himself as a Messiah, trying to save this brave new world. The hopelessness of the task is evident, for John is powerless against the state. But his act of aggression frightens the authorities and proves that even in this utopian society, rebellion is possible, and law and order have to be vigilantly kept. Helmholtz is excited by John's rebellion and courageously joins his cause. In contrast, Bernard stands aside, again revealing his basic cowardice.

In portraying John's rebellion and its quick control, Huxley is obviously referencing the situation in the totalitarian countries of the 1930s. Years of dictatorship were being resisted with rebellion; but any threat to the dictatorial leadership was quickly controlled by the government before it crumbled into chaos.

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