Celina's Blog

January 8, 2016
by celinad

iSearch Assignment – Kindred

It’s not a surprise that this story, like most, is set in the U.S.A. Kindred is specifically set in two places (so far), Maryland (across the bay from Baltimore) in 1815 and Altadena, California in 1976.

Maryland at the time of this story was still around 50 years from officially eliminating slavery, the practice of which had started in 1642 and would last about 200 more years for this state in particular. In the year 1815 specifically, the Methodist and Quaker anti-slavery groups both were working together to form the Protection Society of Maryland, which worked towards getting protection for the free blacks living in the state. Both of these groups are religious groups related to Christianity.

One of the biggest events in 1976 California was the drought that lasted through to the year after. The drought had such a significant impact on the state that there were water conservation movements that last to this day, encouraging citizens to use less while doing daily activities and only when necessary for various other activities. The most damage at the time was to the agricultural system, which accounts for around 75% of water usage in the state, and numerous practices are still used to preserve their water supply, even in times where it would be completely unnecessary, like Drip Irrigation, which has now become a standard practice across the state.

February 23, 2015
by celinad

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

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.

January 20, 2015
by celinad

Brave New World: Bernard (Chapter 10 and earlier)

Bernard is an interesting character, and I don’t quite understand him yet. At first, he’s portrayed as a sort of social outcast; he has a different view of the world and is physically weak. I think Bernard’s character is greatly affected by the fact that he works with the conditioning of babies on a daily basis, he knows exactly what everyone is forced to think as, throughout the majority of chapter 6, he would point out to himself whenever Lenina would state a hypnopaedic saying, mumbling how may times the line would’ve been repeated to them as infants.

I also think that he’s proud of the fact that he’s going against the system in tiny ways, even if he’s to cowardly to do anything drastic. In chapter 6 part 2, Bernard goes to see the Director to get a permit signed so that he and Lenina can go to the Savage Reservation. After allowing Bernard the trip, he threatens to transfer Bernard to a Sub-Centre in Iceland, expecting him to change his behaviour and conform to the normal infantile behaviour that Alphas are supposed to have. Instead, Bernard is almost proud of himself, and the fact that he’s not following the social norm to the point that he’s being called out on it, not taking the threat seriously at all. In chapter 6 part 1, and chapters 3 and 4, we see him refuse offers of soma multiple times, saying to Lenina instead that: ‘I’d rather be myself, Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.’

What confuses me, though, is whether or not Bernard actually disapproves of this system. While these previous things lead me to believe that he does disapprove, but on the other hand, he is determined to keep his social ranking. We see this when he brings John and Linda back to the Civilized World, effectively humiliating the Director and securing his job.

Bernard confuses me.


January 20, 2015
by celinad

Brave New World: Chapters 6-10 Summary

Bernard and Lenina spent a day together, before heading to the savage reserve, in which they watch a Women’s Wrestling Championship and they have a meaningful conversation in front of the ocean (or something). The next day, we see Bernard and Lenina visit a Savage Reservation, where life is vastly different to what they’re used to. They watch a ceremony where an 18 year old boy walked around a pile of snakes and was whipped multiple times, before his blood was offered to the snakes. After the ceremony, they meet Linda and John. Linda was one of the DHC’s previous lovers who had gotten pregnant before she got lost in the reserve, and John is the son of Linda and the DHC. Linda spent most of her time in the reservation losing herself to a type of alcohol called mescal, which served as a form of replacement for soma. John’s personality was influenced by three main things: The culture of the Malpais, stories of the Civilized world(told to him by Linda), and a book called ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Thanks to these things, he has a very romanticized view of the world. He agrees to leaving the Savage Reservation with Bernard and Lenina and convinces Bernard to take Linda with them. Chapter 10 ends with Bernard bringing Linda and John from the reserve and humiliating the Director.

January 9, 2015
by celinad

Brave New World: iSearch Project 1

Ford, in Brave New World, is almost a deity-like figure. We see the DHC say multiple times ‘Oh Ford…’ similarly to how we often say ‘Oh god…’ or ‘Oh my god…’, the word Ford is just generally used in the same sense that we would use the words ‘Lord’, ‘God’, or ‘Jesus’. Even the year that the story takes place implies this, taking place in 632 A.F. (After Ford). Ford seems to refer to Mustapha Mond, one of ten World Controllers (Specifically the World Controller in charge of Western Europe), as, when Mond is introduced, the DHC calls him ‘his fordship’. At this point in time, I seriously doubt that Mond is the original Ford but rather that he has taken up the position of Ford like a pope or other religious leader. Thinking about it, I have to wonder if all World Leaders are referred to as ‘their fordship’, or if only one World Leader holds the position…

The name  likely comes from Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and a sponsor of the development of mass production with assembly lines. He manufactured the first automobile that middle class Americans could actually afford, revolutionizing American industry, and is credited with ‘Fordism’, mass production of inexpensive goods with high wages for workers. It’s thanks to him that mass production is such a popular method of manufacturing products, using the assembly line system to make automobiles so easily.. It makes sense that the author chose the name Ford, seeing as mass production has been a pretty big theme in these first few chapters, with the way humans are created.

January 8, 2015
by celinad

Brave New World: First Chapters

Currently, I have read five chapters of Brave New World, which mainly set the scene for the rest of the story. The first chapters start out with the Directors of Hatcheries and Conditioning giving a group of young students a tour around the Centre of Hatching and Conditioning. They explain various things about how humans of the different caste levels are made and how they are conditioned to like and dislike certain things. The book also explains the general setting of the story, along with a few details as to how humanity got to where it is. While this is taking place, we are also introduced to some of seemingly important characters: Mustapha Mond(One of ten World Controllers, his Fordship), Lenina Crowne(A nurse working at the Centre), Henry Foster(A scientist working at the Centre), Bernard Marx(A physically weak Alpha who doesn’t fit in), and Helmholtz Watson (A lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering). Bernard seems to be the protagonist so far, but it’s a bit early to tell for sure.

Some of the passages stood out to me more than others. For example, there was a scene in the first chapter where the DHC and Henry Foster were showing the students the Social predestination room.

“Eighty-eight cubic metres of card-index,” said Mr. Foster with relish, as they entered.

“Containing all the relevant information,” added the Director.

“Brought up to date every morning.”

“And co-ordinated every afternoon.”

“On the basis of which they make their calculations.”

“So many individuals, of such and such quality,” said Mr. Foster.

“Distributed in such and such quantities.”

“The optimum Decanting Rate at any given moment.”

“Unforeseen wastages promptly made good.”

“Promptly,” repeated Mr. Foster.

I doubt the content of the dialogue itself is very relevant to the story, but I really liked how the two played off each other, how the phrases were split up amongst them like that. If it was just one character explaining the whole process, the scene wouldn’t have flowed as well as it did.

The only questions I had that weren’t answered as I kept reading AND that stuck with me throughout all five chapters is why is ‘his Fordship’ called Ford? Why did the author choose that name, rather than anything else? Is there any significant meaning behind it? Also, there’s a scene, in a room with red lighting, that described the workers as having “purple eyes and all the symptoms of lupus”. The purple eyes make sense, obviously all of their eyes are blue, but the ‘symptoms of lupus’ part? He seems to be implying that their skin has a reddish tint, because I seriously doubt that they haven’t wiped out the disease, but why describe it in that particular way?

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