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.