John the Savage, is the protagonist of the novel and the symbol of the
old world order, where emotion and individualism were important. When
he is taken from the Savage Reservation to London, he refutes the accepted
merits of the "brave, new world" and points out its pitfalls.
Mustapha Mond is the antagonist of the novel and the symbol of the brave
new world. As one of the Controllers of the new society, he represents
the sophisticated, scientific society of the new world order, where conformity
and stability are more valued than emotion and individual freedom. He
effectively counters John's attack on his utopian society, forcing the
Savage to realize that the old world order and brave new world can never
While there are multiple moments of crisis throughout the plot, the
climax occurs during the extended debate between Mustapha Mond and the
Savage. The debate focuses on the crux of the novel, modern humanity's
dilemma between the old and the new - between science and emotion, between
individual freedom and social stability, and between materialism and spiritualism.
The debate does not establish a solution to the problem, indicating that
the two opposing forces will never be able to compromise and co-exist
The plot ends as a tragedy. John has not been able to adjust to the
brave new world and ends his life by committing suicide.
The novel opens in the year 632 A.F. (which means After Ford, the god of the New World). All of civilization has been destroyed by a great war. Then there is another war, the Nine Years War, which ushers in the era of Ford, ensuring stability through dictatorship. The society depicted in the novel is based on a rigid caste system. The higher of the five castes enjoy superior tasks, while the lower ones perform menial roles. Ten Controllers hold all the power in this new world and peace is maintained by conditioning infant minds and by soothing adults with the tranquilizer, soma. The population is further controlled through scientific methods; marriage is forbidden, and children are not born but produced in an embryo factory.
When the novel begins, some students are being given a guided tour through the London Hatcheries. Henry Foster and Lenina Crowne, two employees of this center, have been dating each other a little too often, going against state rules. Lenina's friend Fanny warns her against such promiscuity. As a result, Lenina decides to date Bernard Marx, who is very intelligent but not quite like the others of his caste. Lenina and Bernard decide to go on a vacation to a Savage Reservation in New Mexico, where people considered unworthy of Utopia are confined. On the reservation, the inhabitants live in an almost primitive manner. Before Bernard leaves for his vacation, he is warned by Tomakin, the Director of Hatcheries, about his non-conformist ways and threatened with exile to Iceland.
Lenina and Bernard accidentally meet Linda and her son, John the Savage, on the Reservation. Bernard learns from John that long ago Linda had come to the Reservation with Tomakin, who had abandoned her there. Discovering herself to be carrying Tomakin's child, she knew that she could not return to Utopia; therefore, she stayed on the Reservation and raised John. Hearing this story, Bernard goes to the Controller and gains his permission to take John and his mother back to Utopia. When Bernard presents the pair to Tomakin, the Director is shattered and resigns from his position at the Hatcheries, having become an object of ridicule. Bernard no longer has to worry about being exiled to Iceland.
While living in the custody of Bernard, John becomes the object of everyone's curiosity and amusement. Bernard at first revels in the attention that he receives because of the Savage. Things, however, do not go smoothly. John soon grows repulsed by the ways of the New World and becomes unhappy. Despite his mood, Lenina finds herself terribly attracted to John and tries to seduce him. John, however, fights his physical attraction for her and resists her advances.
When his mother dies, John goes crazy. He then tries to convert the Utopians
to his way of thinking. Rebellion results and must be quelled. Bernard
and Helmholtz Watson are blamed for the rebellion. When the two of them
are taken to Mustapha Mond, along with John, Bernard and Helmholtz are
exiled. John is retained for further experimentation. He resists and tries
to flee into solitude, but the citizens of Utopia continue to hound him.
In a fit of misery and depression, John commits suicide.
Cite this page:
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