Matthew Broman

What is the significance of soma in the book? Is it suppose to be like a Sodium Floride/Mind Control type substance to keep the people submissive or what? If someone could help clarify that for me I would appreicate it...thank you

To answer questions about Brave New World, please sign up.
Liam Murray Yes, in a sense. Soma isn't true mind control since it doesn't give the World State direct access to your thoughts, but it acts as an opiate or antidepressant when anything threatens your happiness (the highest value in the World State), and removes your inhibitions. This makes it easier to escape your problems and feelings of disconnect from the World State. In chapter 3, Mustapha Mond(?) tells the children at the Conditioning Centre that it has "all the benefits of Christianity and alcohol" but "none of their defects."

(Also good to know: the word "soma" and other words that contain it come from the Greek word σῶμα meaning "body," particularly a dead or soulless body in Homer's time.)
mentat Soma is the greek work for body. It's often used in the word psychosomatic, which means that 'what you think in your mind can actually affect your body'. I believe the author uses it in this sense. It reminds me of how a queen honeybee releases a pheromone that takes away all the stress and anxiety of the worker bees so that they can continue to do their daily tasks without revolt.
Josh It doesn't answer your question, but I find Soma fascinating. Ancient cultures consumed a ritual beverage they called Soma that was brewed from indigenous plants. We still don't know what it contained, but we think it was a drug of some sort. Some speculations include cannabis, ephedra, or even hallucinogens. Even today we have a pharmaceutical drug we call Soma which is a very strong muscle relaxer.

Now to try to answer your question. Huxley's Soma is quite simply a catch all. It's the glue that holds his utopia together. It's a device he uses to eliminate any possible discomfort that the world he created does not otherwise control. I don't see it as a form of mind control but I see mind control as a result of the total conditioning that people in this world experience.
Andy It's happiness in a pill, people can choose to have it (like most people in the utopia) and they can choose not to (ex: Bernard on some occasions). I suppose you could say that it's a type of mind control thing since people are conditioned since birth to enjoy it, but it isn't quite. I think the significance of soma is to introduce something that's unsettling yet understandable, like the utopia as a whole. Think about it, a pill that does some weird thing to you that could make every day a good one. Lost your job? Soma. Break up with someone? Soma. Death of a loved one? Soma. Of course you can't really apply these examples to the society in the book because of the way it works. I suppose that soma could be interpreted as a type of mind control, but keep in mind that the people since birth are conditioned to be perfectly happy with their lives and are basically clones of one another, and soma provides a way to plug up some of the holes in the system. Was that helpful? I kind of had to reevaluate the significance of soma myself as I was writing this.
Image for Brave New World
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more