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Brave New World
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Apr 2013-Brave New World > Chapter 7-12

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Karena (karenafagan) Please keep the discussion to these chapters. Spoilers will be present so beware.


Jessica | 464 comments I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like there was impending doom about to happen for poor Bernard. And it did.

Bernard's downfall is foreshadowed when he encounters Helmholtz, his friend. While I was sad for Bernard I was also glad. He was the only one questioning what he had been conditioned to find happiness in. One, must always ask questions to become an individual. So, when his ego gets inflated due to inviting people to parties for a viewing of John (as if he's a puppy that does tricks)...I got a bad after taste in my mouth. This is the Bernard I liked and was glad he got knocked off of his high horse.

Lennina is one big conditioned response and it's disheartening. Her self worth is based on a man's physical response/attraction to her. She, not John, can seem to break that barrier down and get her to see differently.

While reading this book, I cannot help but see the similarities between how this world views savages vs. how western civilization views cultures outside of this realm (countries in africa, places in south and central america, etc etc). Although there are countries who do not put importance on status/wealth/items. In the long run, they are happier, at least I think they are. They are dependent on what God and creation/nature can provide for them and not the working man. Every culture and country is different and that is what makes individuality so beautiful.

Off soap box now. Apologies.


message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Cohen (abstractor1181) I must admit that by the end of this section I become quite disgusted with Bernard. He now has this man, John, that he could easily relate to. Rather than embracing this possible friendship, he exploits the relationship to attain everything that loathed before meeting John.
Lenina on the other hand finds John's inability to consummate as puzzling and it completely turns her world upside down. John is everything that this world isn't and you know almost instinctively that tragedy is imminent with Shakespeare being quoted heavily throughout John's speeches.


Liza  (lizashaw) I finished this section yesterday too and I'm not really sure what to say.

I did find the interactions between bernard/lenina and john/linda fascinating. Lenina's obvious disgust by the way people live, differently to her own life and views where extreme - sadly, we can draw a parrellel with prejudices of today.

It is sad to note that instead of enjoying the company of John, Bernard exploits him, almost like an animal in a zoo (which I don't like either) only bad things can happen from here surely?


Angie Downs Ian wrote: "I must admit that by the end of this section I become quite disgusted with Bernard. He now has this man, John, that he could easily relate to. Rather than embracing this possible friendship, he exp..."

Bernard is a completely flat, hypocritical character. He thinks he wants/believes in change, but is actually comfortable in it. He would rather be oblivious to all the injustice he is aware of than continue to know it. Whereas, his friend (his name escapes me now) would rather know and be able to write than be ignorant of the truth. Bernard in some ways reminds me of Archer from Age of Innocence. He is completely incapable of acting on anything he claims to believe in.


Angie Downs Liza wrote: "I finished this section yesterday too and I'm not really sure what to say.

I did find the interactions between bernard/lenina and john/linda fascinating. Lenina's obvious disgust by the way people..."


It is so frustrating because when Bernard and Lenina are in the savage reservation, John is referred to by his name. Yet, when he is in "civilization," he is referred to as "the savage."


Jessica | 464 comments Angie wrote: "Liza wrote: "I finished this section yesterday too and I'm not really sure what to say.

I did find the interactions between bernard/lenina and john/linda fascinating. Lenina's obvious disgust by t..."


Even Mr. Savage....it's so degrading.


Angie Downs One of the most frustrating issues in this book for me is the attitude toward parenting. Being a father is bad enough, humiliating. But being a mother is even worse, disgusting and irreproachable. Being a mother is something you can never come back from.


Angie Downs Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like there was impending doom about to happen for poor Bernard. And it did.

Bernard's downfall ..."


I totally agree about Bernard. I think this section is supposed to make us realize that Bernard is truly no different than anyone else in the book, except that he is aware. This section highlights Bernard's true issues, that he is a jealous hypocrite. He just wants to be able to have sex and do soma with as many girls as possible, just like every other guy around him. But something went wrong in his test tube creating and he became shorter and more sentient than the other people, so girls don't like him as much. But, as soon as he gains popularity, he is off screwing like a bunny anything that moves and boasting about it as he goes. To me, he became one of the most deplorable characters in the novel.


message 10: by Grandpa Jud (last edited Apr 06, 2013 07:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Grandpa Jud (grandpajud) | 42 comments Angie wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like there was impending doom about to happen for poor Bernard. And it did.

Ber..."


This is a good point. When we first meet Bernard, he deeply disapproves of the attraction others have for Lenina, saying these men just view her as "a piece of meat" - and further that she views herself in that way. If Bernard is trying to voice a moral objection, the basis for his objection seems obscure since both Lenina and her lovers receive only pleasure from their interactions. However, once Bernard, through his connection with John, is able to attract women himself, then he becomes as promiscuous as anybody. We don't hear another word about Lenina, or any of Bernard's lovers, as being just a piece of meat. So I conclude there was nothing at all behind Bernard's original objection other than a very deep-seated jealousy that others were enjoying with Lenina what he very much wanted but could not have.


Grandpa Jud (grandpajud) | 42 comments Grandpa Joe wrote: "Angie wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like there was impending doom about to happen for poor Bernard. An..."

I'll note further that Bernard's subpar appearance is an exception. The society has been very successful in preventing physical deterioration as the result of sickness or aging. Consequently, with rare exceptions, no one, male or female, will be sexually hit upon by someone else who is fundamentally unattractive. Thus it becomes relatively easy for the members of this society to buy into the belief that "everyone belongs to everyone else."


Grandpa Jud (grandpajud) | 42 comments Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Angie wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like there was impending doom about to happen ..."

Moving on to John, the "Savage," he was not raised in this "brave new world" and so cannot be expected to believe or behave as though he had received that world's instruction and conditioning. John experiences severe hang-ups when Lenina comes on to him. As a result, he apparently is unable to experience what might have been an uncomplicated and enjoyable love affair with her.


Grandpa Jud (grandpajud) | 42 comments Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Angie wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like there was impending d..."

One more part to this reply, and I'll quit (for now). I find it interesting that although soma is a drug that provides fantastic sleep experiences, apparently the pleasures of soma do not outweigh the pleasures of sex.


Angie Downs Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Angie wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. Overall I felt like t..."

Interesting. I very rarely felt like (at least the female characters) ever really described sex as being pleasurable - only an expected part of being an adult. I think maybe it comes more apparent in the last part of the book.


Danaë | 89 comments I think we had some foreshadowing of Bernard's true character in the first part of the book when he is boasting to Helmholtz after the argument with the Director. I hoped there would be more to him, but he is hard to like after this section where he exploits John. I suppose it isn't too unexpected that he would do so. Just like Jessica says about Lenina's self worth being tied to men's attraction to her, Bernard has been conditioned to feel the same, but has had a lack of women to give that self worth boost. In this society where the community is all and individuality is squashed how else are they supposed to measure themselves except by how many connections they have with other people? And since they are so encouraged to make those connections sexually it makes sense that he would go overboard when possible. The rational part of my mind says this, the emotional part says, "ick, what a slimy opportunistic jerk he turned out to be."

I am saddened by what happened to Linda. She was wholly unprepared for life outside "civilization" and her inability to adapt made her an outcast there. Then when she finally gets back to her beloved home, she is an outcast again.

Angie wrote: "Interesting. I very rarely felt like (at least the female characters) ever really described sex as being pleasurable - only an expected part of being an adult. I think maybe it comes more apparent in the last part of the book.
"


I noticed this too. They seem mostly concerned about seeming odd by not being promiscuous enough. This supposedly sexually liberated society is actually rather oppressive, forcing people inclined toward monogamy (as Lenina seems to be in the beginning with Henry Foster) to hurry up and move on to new partners.


Grandpa Jud (grandpajud) | 42 comments In message 15, Danae writes, "this supposedly sexually liberated society is actually rather oppressive..." I agree that it is a regimented society in a great many ways, and a society we might well find oppressive. But I think the vast majority of the New World population does not find it oppressive. Except for a few alpha +'s, they are engineered and conditioned to enjoy themselves and not think too deeply. Indeed, if they were to think deeply or critically about the plusses and minuses of their society, this would be worrisome to the governing elite - and sufficient reason for remedial measures to be taken.

And, yes, given his intellect and deep knowledge of both the New World and the primitive society, Bernard clearly is a disappointment. He simply seeks personal gratification (long-denied) on what seems to us to be a superficial level and shows no interest in being of genuine help either to the society or to anyone he knows.


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Ian Cohen (abstractor1181) Grandpa Joe wrote: "In message 15, Danae writes, "this supposedly sexually liberated society is actually rather oppressive..." I agree that it is a regimented society in a great many ways, and a society we might well..."

In Bernard's defense, he is an anomaly in the overall scheme of breeding in the Hatchery. While I'm not crazy about his actions during these chapters, you must keep in mind that his surrogate provided him with high levels of alcohol before he was decanted. It has left him with deficiencies in comparison to other alphas which leaves him as somewhat inferior to other members of his class. His height being one of the major insecurities.
This would definitely help account for his jealousy of other characters and his inability to accept "The Savage" as an equal. John is simply leverage for Bernard in order to get the things he couldn't obtain on his own. By linking himself to someone that is considered less desirable to his society, Bernard's status has risen. Which is not too uncommon in any society really.


HeatherIlene (heather_ilene) | 91 comments I, too, had hopes for Bernard only to be quite disappointed with him during these chapters. I was hoping he would create change or relate to John -- neither of which occurred. To Angie's point, he is a flat character and an example of hypocrisy.

As I've been reading the book, I've also been checking out the analysis on Sparknotes. There are some interesting observations regarding the parallels between BNW and The Tempest if anyone is interested.


Danaë | 89 comments Grandpa Joe wrote: "In message 15, Danae writes, "this supposedly sexually liberated society is actually rather oppressive..." I agree that it is a regimented society in a great many ways, and a society we might well..."

True, I don't think the general population sees themselves as being controlled/oppressed/whathaveyou. They've been brainwashed into believing they are free. They must feel somewhat uneasy or dissatisfied with their lives though, or they wouldn't all be using so much soma.

HeatherIlene wrote: "As I've been reading the book, I've also been checking out the analysis on Sparknotes. There are some interesting observations regarding the parallels between BNW and The Tempest if anyone is interested. "

I'll have to check that out. I was thinking of reading the Tempest for the Shakespeare optional this month to compare the stories.


Francie Grice "The mesa was like a ship becalmed in a strait of lion-coloured dust. The channel would between precipitous banks, and slanting from one wall to the other across the valley ran a streak of green--the river and it's fields. on the prow of that stone ship in the centre of the strait, and seemingly a part of it, a shaped and geometrical outcrop of the naked rock, stook the pueblow of Malpais. (Ch. 7, pg 99)

Oh, the imagery! Huxley's writing is beautiful.


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Leo Walsh (llleoll) | 17 comments Ian wrote: "I must admit that by the end of this section I become quite disgusted with Bernard. He now has this man, John, that he could easily relate to. Rather than embracing this possible friendship, he exp..."

Hey Ian. I appreciated your comments. But I wanted to throw in my two cents...

I actually empathized with Bernard while losing my patience with him. He was, after all, small and rather ugly. And thus uneasy as an Alpha. Which made him feel isolated. And I could relate to that. Since I've felt isolated at times as well. And it is quite uncomfortable.

So when he finds a way to feel like a popular Alpha -- since popularity and standing among peers is something that he has been conditioned to -- it seemed natural that he would exploit his friendship with John. I'm not going to say it was a good way to treat a friend. Or that he was right. But I can understand it, and notice that it does seem to fit his character.


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Leo Walsh (llleoll) | 17 comments Angie wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Grandpa Joe wrote: "Angie wrote: "Jessica wrote: "I finished this section yesterday. There were a lot of mixed emotions throughout too. O..."

Hey Angie. I just get the feeling that the people in the BNW just don't get hung up on sex. They enjoy it, but it is pale and passionless. Sort of like Soma, feelies and other forms of escapism. But requiring a change of sheets... =)


message 23: by Leo (last edited Apr 12, 2013 05:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leo Walsh (llleoll) | 17 comments Francie wrote: ""The mesa was like a ship becalmed in a strait of lion-coloured dust. The channel would between precipitous banks, and slanting from one wall to the other across the valley ran a streak of green--..."

Preach on. Huxley is beyond doubt a great writer.

For instance, I love the mosaic of the first chapter. I enjoy how Huxley overlaps several stories, and yet it is crystal clear what story we are following. And seamlessly introduces a society, how it works, and most of our main characters. That takes some serious writer's chops to pull off...


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Andrew (andrew619) | 183 comments In the first part we found the description of the world and his costumes. In this second part are described with more precision the charcaters and their peculiarity. For example, Bernard in his world is a man physically different from the others and for this isolated. Being an Alpha he is aware of the conditioning to which all are subject, but is also hypocrite, because at the first occasion change in a a sneaky man, following his convenience. He use John for acquire fame, women and consideration from the others. Both these man are similar: they are the 'different' in their society. John grown listening from his mother stories about a wonderful world: now he can see the real world and I think that the difference for him is shocking.


Nicky (nally_gene) | 10 comments To me it seems that, regardless of his physical stature, Bernard only views the society in a negative way when he's unhappy (possibly due to his refusal of soma). This is even mirrored by the quote from the Director about how much easier things would be if they didn't have to worry about one's happiness. But once Bernard exploits John and gains what he sees as valuable (social status, sex, ect.) it's sad how quickly he changes and stops his complaining.
I felt slightly bad for Bernard when he thought..."he admitted inwardly, and at last even said aloud, the truth of all that the Savage now said about the worthlessness of friends who could be turned upon so slight a provocation into persecuting enemies." I've had to deal with people like that in my own life, but it doesn't excuse Bernard's poor treatment of John.


Christine HeatherIlene wrote: "I, too, had hopes for Bernard only to be quite disappointed with him during these chapters. I was hoping he would create change or relate to John -- neither of which occurred. To Angie's point, he ..."

Coincidentally, I saw a production of The Tempest last night. One parallel is that Miranda is similar to John as she has been sheltered on an island and is just beginning to become aware of the world beyond her small sphere. A big difference between the characters is that Miranda is very naive and has only seen her world through what Prospero has shared with her. John is so much more complex because he has been influenced by his mother, Pope and of course Shakespeare.


Christine Bernard is such a disappoint me to me! Like an earlier post, I had hopes that Bernard could bring about some change but instead he is using the connection with "Mr. Savage" to further his social status.


I liked how John stands up to Bernard when he says "I'd rather be unhappy than have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having here." John is the only one demonstrating any wisdom because he is the only one that has worked through his problems. Bernard has his opportunities to grow but he is choosing soma instead.


message 28: by Chahrazad (last edited Apr 26, 2013 10:09AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Chahrazad I think we all agree that Bernard is a disappointment! Like many of you, I thought he would be the redeeming quality in a world gone off track, but it turned out he was a failure.
Helmholtz on the other hand is quite the opposite. He shared with Bernard the same feelings of alienation and isolation at the beginning, but contrarily to Bernard, whose alienation stems from a complex of inferiority (we have seen in the first chapters that he was smaller than than other Alpha Plus males), Helmholtz seems to be genuinely disgusted with the hypnopeadic tradition. Therefore, he's the one to actually bond with John.

Lenina is a poor girl indeed, just when she is on the verge of finding true love she mixes it with instant sexual gratification (can't blame her for being severely conditioned)

I think neither worlds is free in this book... people are conditioned in both, consciously in the civilized sphere, and unconsciously or shall I say naturally in the savage one.

Some posts have already mentioned the interesting choice of names :)


Beth (bibliobeth) | 36 comments I also had really high hopes for Bernard and thought he might break away from the whole system but he really disappointed me with his treatment of John. He is clearly a hypocrite and doesn't care about his previous issues when surrounded by women, getting the attention he feels he deserves having been dealt the Alpha "short" straw.


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