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

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CHAPTER 2

Summary

From the Decanting Room, where Foster stays behind, the students are led by the Director to the fifth floor; here they will visit the Infant Nurseries and the Neo-Pavlovion Conditioning Rooms, where the conditioning process is demonstrated for the students. In clear sight in the room, there are bowls of roses and books with pictures of beasts, birds, and other creatures. The babies are brought in and set before the objects. As soon as the infants begin to respond with delight over what they see, a series of explosions and shocks are generated to frighten them. Subsequently, the very sight of the roses and picture books causes feelings of aversion and terror in the children. The state believes that through such unalterable conditioning, the children will be safe "from books and botany all their lives." The Director justifies this procedure by saying that reading books and enjoying nature simply waste time and energy. He also explains the value of sleep-teaching, known as hypnop'dia, for it allows a person to be productive in his/her sleep. The Director boasts that hypnop'dia is "the greatest moralizing and socializing force of all time."

Another demonstration of the conditioning process is presented in the chapter. While they are asleep, Beta babies are fed "Elementary Class Consciousness;" they are told that they should hate Deltas, Epsilons, and Gammas and should refrain from any emulation of the superior Alphas. This conditioning takes place three times a week for thirty months. The Betas who succeed in the first conditioning are then given more advanced lessons.

Notes

The whole chapter dwells on how the State brainwashes its subjects right from birth; using conditioning exercises and sleep teaching, the infants are made to accept who they are, what their future jobs will be, and their station in life. The government rationalizes the brainwashing by saying that it is trying to ensure order and "happiness" in the new world. However, they teach the infants to be frightened by books and natural things, both of which are fearful to the totalitarian government of the new order.

Throughout the chapter, there are reminders that this is a futuristic novel. There are quaint references to the "dead languages" of contemporary times. Pavlov's theory of conditioning is used in new ways on humans to control what they become. Signs of a totalitarian state are present in the way everything is run and controlled; additionally, personal relationships are denounced. Ford, apparently the founder of Utopia, is considered to be the god of this future new world; one of the popular exclamations in the novel is, "Oh Ford," and everything in the novel is dated A.F., meaning After Ford.


CHAPTER 3

Summary

This chapter begins with children playing ball games, while the Director watches approvingly. He thinks about certain incredible facts of the past. He tells the students that in pre-Ford times, erotic play between youth was frowned upon as abnormal, even immoral; in fact, sex was banned until the age of twenty. The Director is certain that the result was disastrous. One of the ten World Controllers, his Fordship Mustapha Mond, enters during the Director's explanation to the children; he elaborates on the results of such past taboos. The Director is awed by Mond's presence; he is also a little apprehensive, since he has heard rumors about the Controller's strange collection of banned books.

The rest of the chapter pursues three conversations: one is a lop-sided monologue between the Controller and the students; another is between Lenina Crowne and Fanny Crowne; and the final one is between Henry Foster and the Assistant Predestinator, with Bernard Marx a silent and hostile eavesdropper. All of the conversations, in one way or the other, relate to gender relationships, especially concerning single attachments, plural diversions, and promiscuity.

The Controller talks to the students about the stifling, squalid affects of family ties, domestic bonds, and maternal love. He claims that the possession of intense feeling shows a lack of stability. He is proud that the post-Ford world is one without emotions. He is also glad that Christianity, with its talk of heaven, souls, and immortality, is no longer permitted, for he feels it was a religion that encouraged suffering and poverty. Mustapha Mond feels that religion and emotion are no longer needed because of soma; it is a perfect drug that when taken makes people feel euphoric. Soma can also help people to overcome old age and to escape from reality.

As Mond speaks to the students, Foster and the Assistant Predestinator are discussing Lenina as a perfect piece of "meat." Foster recommends her to his companion. Since "everyone belongs to everyone else," there is no possessiveness in any relationships. When they see Bernard, they tease him about being glum and suggest a gram of soma for him. Helpless in his anger, Bernard simply walks away.

In another conversation, Fanny, who is law-abiding and well-conditioned, is surprised that Lenina is continuing to date only Foster. In this brave new world, promiscuity is encouraged, while constancy is disproved. Although Lenina realizes she is defying the law, she is at first unrepentant about her relationship with Foster. In the end, she finally agrees to find another man and decides on Bernard. He has asked her to visit one of the Savage Reservations with him, and Lenina is agreeable to the idea. Fanny is shocked by her choice, for she thinks Bernard is a weakling. Lenina defends him as being cute in a different way.

Towards the end of the chapter, there is an intrusion of the Elementary Class Consciousness lesson, where voices are adapting future industrial supply and promoting a love of flying.

Notes

This is a complex chapter in which several things and several conversations go on at once. The reader must follow the sentences carefully in order to co-relate them correctly. Throughout the chapter, Huxley uses the cinematic device of montage, where he alternates conversation and juxtaposes various scenes that are sometimes abruptly cut.

During the chapter, history is again denounced in no uncertain terms, by both the Director and the Controller. "The great men and great deeds of history are swept away like so much cobweb," and the molding of minds into a monotonous sameness is held up as a great improvement upon the past. Additionally, impulses and emotions are ridiculed as destabilizing forces. The reader is again reminded that science is the only God in Huxley's brave, new world. To emphasize this fact, the students are clearly taught to accept the new impersonal, scientific norms, and most people accept them without question. Fanny is clearly one of those people, as seen when she advises Lenina that she must give up her relationship with Foster, which is illegal. However, signs of rebellion are detected in both Lenina and Bernard, who do not seem to comply with all the rules.

Huxley's knowledge of contemporary psychological theories on sexual repression is evident here. In his brave new world, promiscuity is encouraged, almost demanded. The leaders believe that sexual permissiveness releases frustration and reduces the chances of social rebellion. As a result, adults have many partners and no real relationships; and even the young children are not prevented from sexual play.

Obviously there is satire in Huxley's depiction of a world where thinking is bad, and progress is defined as a place where "old men work, copulate, and have no time to sit down and think." To further the name of progress, individual values have been replaced by a collective ethic, and strict controls have supplanted enforceable rules. The description of this changed new world is a fairly transparent criticism on what was then happening in Communist countries.


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