Celina's Blog

February 23, 2015
by celinad
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Brave New World: Chapters 15-18

In these last few chapters we see a lot more regarding the actual world of Brave New World, along with Mustapha Mond’s past and an alternate possibility to living in the civilized World.

Chapter 15 starts with John leaving the Park Lane Hospital for the Dying after Linda passed away, and encountering a group of Deltas waiting for their soma rations before he leaves. John was appalled, comparing the Bokanovsky groups to maggots swarming around pills of poison. As the Deltas pick up their rations, he pleads for them to stop, for them to throw away the horrible poison that had killed Linda. Meanwhile, Helmholtz gets a call from a friend of his at the hospital, alerting him and Bernard to the scene John is causing for himself. As the two reach the hospital, Bernard and Helmholtz witness John attempting to force freedom on the clueless Deltas, calling the group slaves and babies as they currently are. Bernard watches the scene scared for John’s life, aware of the fact that the Deltas might just kill him, while Helmholtz joins John in the middle of the fray, the two of them throwing the some rations out the hospital windows, yelling for the Deltas to be free, who went absolutely mad. Bernard watched the battle with a sort of hesitation, worried for his friends’ lives, yet also for his should he try to help them. He takes the cowardly way out and decides to yell at the police for help as he sees them running into the building. The police tame the mob with a gaseous form of soma, and it doesn’t take long for the group, including John and Helmholtz, to start hugging one another almost in tears. Bernard tries to sublty escape the building after his two friends were taken in by the police, but ends up getting caught anyway and joins them in the police car.

The three are taken to Mustapha Mond’s study, where he mainly confronts John and Helmholtz about their opinions on society. The pair of them are engrossed in the conversation, while Bernard manages to maintain his negative attitude, the reason why they have to meet with the Controller constantly present in his mind. Mond explains their society to the trio.

“The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.”

John argues determinedly on behalf of Othello, and of the works he’s grown so fond of. While Mond agrees that they are beautiful, he states that you have to sacrifice that kind of high art for the stable happiness their society has. They have no need for the old beautiful things, it would ruin their happiness. John also asks about why they don’t just make everyone Alpha double-pluses which brings up an experiment that had taken place in the past.

“It began in A.F. 473. The Controllers had the island of Cyprus cleared of all its existing inhabitants and re-colonized with a specially prepared batch of twenty-two thousand Alphas. All agricultural and industrial equipment was handed over to them and they were left to manage their own affairs. The result exactly fulfilled all the theoretical predictions. The land wasn’t properly worked; there were strikes in all the factories; the laws were set at naught, orders disobeyed; all the people detailed for a spell of low-grade work were perpetually intriguing for high-grade jobs, and all the people with high-grade jobs were counter-intriguing at all costs to stay where they were. Within six years they were having a first-class civil war. When nineteen out of the twenty-two thousand had been killed, the survivors unanimously petitioned the World Controllers to resume the government of the island. Which they did. And that was the end of the only society of Alphas that the world has ever seen.”

The Controller also brings up his past, explaining that before becoming a World Controller he was a great scientist who was to curious for his own good. Because of this, he very nearly got sent to an Island, which is exactly what was going to happen to Bernard and Helmholtz. Bernard freaks out, panicking at the thought of being sent to Iceland, promising to be a normal Alpha and pushing the blame for their actions onto the other two men. After Bernard is properly subdued and sent to a bedroom, Mond explains that the Islands are actually a reward for uniquely-minded Alphas such as themselves. The Islands are (from what I’ve gathered) any Islands throughout the world that aren’t currently in use, the climates of which can vary greatly depending on the area. Helmholtz decides that he would prefer a stormier, windier climate and Mond agrees to send him and Bernard to the Falkland islands. Once Helmholtz leaves, John and Mond discuss various things: Shakespeare, Religion, Happiness, and just the society in general. By the end of the conversation, John comes to the conclusion that he is claiming the right to be unhappy.

The final chapter starts with Bernard and Helmholtz saying goodbye to John, as they have to leave the next morning. John mentions how he would love to go to an Island with them, however Mustapha Mond refuses to let him go, hoping to prolong the running experiment of exposing him to the civilized world. John decides that even if he can’t go to an Island, there is no way he’ll continue to live in the city, and the next morning he finds residence in an abandoned lighthouse. He feels the need, while living there, to support himself with as little help as possible from the civilized world, determinedly making a bow and arrow and planning on making a garden when the chance presents itself. John manages to live in relative solitude until a group of Delta-minuses see him outside the lighthouse whipping himself. That started the waves of reporters, constantly invading the Savage’s privacy. He managed to fend most of them off, shooting arrows towards approaching helicopters, but he didn’t do a good enough job. A reporter, hidden in the bushes surrounding the building, had filmed John with plans of turning the footage into a feely. The feely was a huge success, drawing in more and more sightseers to catch a glimpse of the star of the film. By the time Lenina had come to visit, John was at his breaking point. Between the chants of ‘We want the whip’ and ‘Orgy-Porgy’ he had attacked Lenina, and himself, before hanging himself the next day.

February 4, 2015
by celinad
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Brave New World: Chapters 11 – 14

Upon returning to the civilized world, Linda is so overjoyed at her renewed access to soma that she falls into a soma coma. Despite his claim that ‘It’s not right’, John gives in, and allows his mother the soma. For the duration of his stay in the civilized world, Bernard is designated his guardian, and Bernard makes the most of this. Since Bernard is the only person who’s in contact with the Savage – who everyone wants to meet –  he feels ‘lighter than air’. Suddenly being respected and important, after the years he spent being inadequate in the eyes of his peers, was just a bit much. The fame went to his head and he even started to criticize the society they live in, writing “…I agree with the Savage in finding civilized infantility too easy or, as [John] puts it, not expensive enough” in a report to Mustapha Mond, who finds the fact that Bernard is trying to lecture a World Controller about the social order absolutely hilarious, and decides to teach him a lesson later on. Oblivious of his Fordship’s reaction, Bernard has the brilliant idea of throwing parties to up his social standing even further. After a certain point, though, John outright refuses to participate and hides in his room. Bernard’s guests feel betrayed, almost, after discovering there was no chance of seeing the Savage, immediately reverting back to how they used to treat Bernard, the Alpha with a Gamma-Minus physique, who had alcohol poured into his blood surrogate by accident. John remarks, after the fact, the Bernard seems more like how he used to be, like the Bernard he had met at the Savage Reservation.

“You’re more like what you were at Malpais,” [John] said, when Bernard had told him his plaintive story. “Do you remember when we first talked together? Outside the little house. You’re like what you were then.”

“Because I’m unhappy again; that’s why.”

“Well, I’d rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here.”

“I like that,” said Bernard bitterly. “When it’s you who were the cause of it all. Refusing to come to my party and so turning them all against me!”

This interaction, I think, really says something about how Bernard has changed in such a short period of time. Before they had went to the Savage Reservation, Bernard had said, similarly to what John had said, “‘I’d rather be myself,’ he said. ‘Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.'” Feeling the sense of power and elation of actually being respected must have changed his opinion drastically if he’s directly contradicting something he’s said in an earlier chapter.

Back to his former self, Bernard reignites his friendship with Helmholtz (previously ending it due to a quarrel between the two) and Helmholtz forgives him, before the two talk about what has happened in each other’s absence. After venting about his newly lost fame, Bernard discovers that Helmholtz has had his fair share of problems as well. Helmholtz had given a group of students a lecture on some rhymes he had written about being alone, however the reaction was so negative that he almost lost his job, as the poem went against all conditioning. Despite this, Helmholtz was surprisingly happy, saying: ‘I feel as though I were just beginning to have something to write about. As though I were beginning to be able to use that power I feel I’ve got inside me–that extra, latent power.’

Later on, John meets Helmholtz. The two of them hit it off immediately, talking about poetry and Shakespeare. The first bump in their newly found friendship comes when John is reciting a passage from Romeo and Juliet. Everything went relatively smoothly, Helmholtz appreciating the beauty of this work, until the last part of the third act.

“Is there no pity sitting in the clouds,
That sees into the bottom of my grief?
O sweet my mother, cast me not away:
Delay this marriage for a month, a week;
Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed
In that dim monument where Tybalt lies …”

Helmholtz couldn’t contain his laughter, so many things throughout this passage were so silly to him. A mother and father, forcing their daughter to marry someone she didn’t want, and the daughter saying she preferred someone else. Those parts on their own were extremely hilarious, but what really pushed it over the edge was ‘sweet mother’ and the reference to Tybalt lying dead, but not cremated. All of these things are so drastically different to what Helmholtz is used to in his society that they seem unbelievably silly. Mothers and Fathers seem to be a sort of taboo subject, as people would blush whenever the word was mentioned throughout the story. He found the idea of a non-cremated corpse hilarious, probably because in their society the dead are cremated and the gases made from this process are recycled for other purposes, so having a corpse just lying there must seem like a waste. Finally, arranged marriage and monogamous relationships don’t happen in their society, in fact monogamy is almost frowned upon. I feel like Helmholtz found this part the most absurd. Everyone belongs to everyone else, after all.

Meanwhile, Lenina is having boy troubles. This doesn’t seem like such a big development at first, but, as I said previously, monogamy is frowned upon. She discusses the issue with her friend, Fanny, who convinces her to act on her feelings. After taking half a gramme of soma, she heads over to Bernard’s apartment to confront John.  Unfortunately, the meeting didn’t end well. Their cultures so drastically different, both had different ideas on how to make their romance work. John wanted to prove he was good enough for Lenina, to prove he loved her through some extravagant task so they could marry. Lenina, however could’t understand why John wanted to do these unnecessary things when the two of them already love each other and they’re right there, why can’t they just have each other? When she tries to act on what her ideas of love are John shoves her away, calls her a whore, and demands she leaves, before Lenina ran and locked herself in the bathroom. While she’s in the room, she overhears John stop his Shakespearean ramblings to answer a phone call.

As soon as he gets the call, John leaves immediately, rushing to be at his dying mother’s side. He repeated the rhymes that Linda would recite to him when he was small, over and over, hoping to provoke a reaction from the woman. In the middle of his repetitions, a group of young Deltas stop in front of the bed, in the building for their death conditioning. He becomes so frustrated by their rude comments that he even shoves some of them around. When his mother died, John was stricken with grief, and pushed another kid.

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