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Group Read Discussions > Brave New World - Spoilers

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10125 comments Mod
Here there be spoilers


message 2: by Dani (new)

Dani (The Pluviophile Writer) (pluviophilewriter) | 237 comments I just finished the novel and while I was extremely intrigued with Huxley's ideas I found the ending a disappointment. It felt lack-lustre to me and like the main aspect of the novel was being missed. John the Savage's frustration was the only thing that really touched me. I guess because the book has been discussed so much the ideas feel old to me, regardless I think they could have been placed more potently. The novel doesn't hold the same dystopian power as Orwell's 1984 as the majority of characters are flat with the exception of Bernard and John but perhaps that is the point? The flatness of the majority of characters drives home that this "brave new world" is nothing worth exploring and the stagnant happiness of the characters are uninteresting proving that the pain and suffering that we experience though life make us what we are.


message 3: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 140 comments Strangely, I thought the book was an interesting world and thought experiment until John the Savage showed up. Admittedly I read it in high school, but I remember finding him annoying and whiny. I really enjoyed the beginning when they were explaining how the world worked and the ways they made people fit their specific jobs. I'm going to have to re-read it and see if my feelings about it change.


message 4: by Haelee (last edited Jan 03, 2011 11:17PM) (new)

Haelee (leehae831) I think that this idea of dystopian society is a lot more frightening and real then the one portrayed in "1984". In Orwell's book it's all about violence, in Huxley's world it seems more of something that they slipped into, and by the time they got into real issues (growing babies, everyone belongs to everyone.) they were all too drugged up to notice. Who wouldn't mind just taking a pill whenever you feel sad? Hundreds of thousands of people do that everyday already.

Also as an interesting after thought, this book was written to portray a dystopian society, and in many ways does, but are there some things about their society that are good?


message 5: by Dani (new)

Dani (The Pluviophile Writer) (pluviophilewriter) | 237 comments I think that's what I appreciated the most about Huxley's novel is that the civilized world that he portrays doesn't sound all that terrible to a degree while in 1984 there isn't really any appeal to living in Big Brother's world.

In Huxley's world, you're happy whether it's drug induced or not and you live in luxury but like with every luxury there are sacrifices: the brain washing, not having a family or any sort of personal freedom or dignity. I think that was the point that Huxley may have been trying to get at is that everything comes with a sacrifice and for someone like John or Bernard the sacrifice was too much to bear. They would rather feel pain then not know what it feels like at all and can see the value in these experiences and the placidness of the civilized life but for Linda, the dull and drugged life is something she longed for and is something she never would have given up has she not become pregnant and lost when out with the Director.


message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) Danielle wrote: "as the majority of characters are flat with the exception of Bernard and John but perhaps that is the point? The flatness of the majority of characters drives home that this "brave new world" is nothing worth exploring and the stagnant happiness of the characters are uninteresting proving that the pain and suffering that we experience though life make us what we are. "

Yes, I think that is exactly the point. The new world got rid of negative feelings as well as real love and attachment to others, but those things are part of being human. Plain old "happiness" from a drug is not human and they gave up things by achieving this Brave New World.


Gitte - Bookworm's Closet (gittetofte) Emily wrote: "Strangely, I thought the book was an interesting world and thought experiment until John the Savage showed up. Admittedly I read it in high school, but I remember finding him annoying and whiny. I ..."

I must say that I agree with you. I found John a very annoying and slightly boring. And I didn't like the way he came to dominate the story in the last part of the novel.


message 8: by Dani (new)

Dani (The Pluviophile Writer) (pluviophilewriter) | 237 comments I can see why you guys found him annoying. None of the characters in this novel are really memorable or anyone you could get attached to.


Gitte - Bookworm's Closet (gittetofte) I thought Bernard had some potential at first but that changed when he became 'successful'.


message 10: by Dani (new)

Dani (The Pluviophile Writer) (pluviophilewriter) | 237 comments I agree. I was disappointed with him as I really thought he would stick to his views but apparently fitting in was more important to him.


message 11: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicasey) I am absolutely amazed by these syfy writers of long ago. You know, like Huxley, or Bradbury, or even Philip K. Dick. They wrote of events in a time where they must have seem almost implausible, and yet their stories are still around today. Unfortunately, today their stories seem much more plausible than they did back then.

I think the thing I find most disturbing about their writings is that we really, as a species, haven't evolved as much as we'd liked to think we have. We still have the potential for utter destruction, and court that danger every day. All you have to do is watch the news to figure that out. We're not as open-minded as we care to make ourselves believe. There are still huge prejudices in the world, we've just altered our focus on who were prejudice against for this generation. Also, I see where our society now is also not so different from the society Huxley presents, scary when you think that he wrote this about 60 years ago. I mean how many times have you heard people comment that people today want instant gratification, and that they don't want to have to work for their "rewards"?

But as I've said these are some of the similiarities that I think make these stories the classics they are.

As for the story itself, obviously I found it very thought-provoking. Though I had a multitude of reactions as I read the story. So, let's jump around a bit as I throw them at you. Shall we?

The explanations of how humans are created in this future society can easily be compared to what we do now with cells in science labs. Using genes to rule out birth defects, cloning (not humans, yet),and invitro leading to multiple births. So while I found their human creation appalling, I didn't find it shocking.

I was completely disgusted by the society's motto of everyone is for everyone. However, they were in turn disgusted by our society's familial construct.

The civilized versus the savages is a theme that's been rampant for way too long. You just have to look at how many "pagan" societies have been Christianized or modernized to realize that. However, I appreciated Huxley's ability to show that prejudice occurs on both sides. Both the civilized and the savage look down on what they saw as different, they ostracized, and eventually caused harm.

I was a bit lost during the philosophical debate about society and how it should be run. I'm big enough to admit that part was a bit over my head.

Lastly, I was a touch upset with the ending, but I can't say I didn't see it coming. (Double negatives, I know. Get over it.)

Again, an interesting read. Very thought-provoking. Very entertaining as well. You jump in right from the beginning and the story just slowly, but surely carries you along on a steady stream until you've reached the end. It's not gripping, nor edge of your seat stuff, but it keeps your head involved in the story line.


message 12: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 1 comments Thank you for your comment, Kristi, about Huxley writing this 60 years ago. I hadn't really thought about how the things he wrote in this book would be very far from the capabilities of technology at the time. Like many good science fiction books, I loved how this one made me think. The technology in this book is now a very tangible reality, which definitely caused me as a reader to think about where the technology we have now could take us, and at what cost to society. Overall, I thought this book was a very interesting read.


message 13: by Laura (last edited Jan 14, 2011 09:49PM) (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments This book is really thought provoking. When the Head Honcho (forget what his Fordship's title actually was) explained that truth, art and science had to be sacrificed for happiness I found myself thinking it wouldn't be such a horrid trade off.

I wonder if we were seriouslsy given the opportunity to choose to end all wars, disease, starvation, aging, conflict,... would we willingly sacrifice some individuality and even (this is sacrilidge in GoodReads I imagine) books? If you think it's not worth the sacrifice, how about asking someone who lost a father in a war or had a daughter raped. Or even a very bright and capable person born in an impoverished village in a poor country who can't take time out from scavenging to help feed the family to learn to read.

In BNW people are trapped in the destiny chosen by them in a labratory. In our world people are trapped in the destiny chosen by chance: location of birth, stability of governments, quality of parenting, genetics, income, IQ, .... Is one more just than the other? Do we really have free will to chose our life? Sure, some of us have quite a bit (within bounds) much like the Alphas in BNW, but much of the world's population are really constrained in their options. Deltas without the conditioning to like it.

Okay, now I'll probably be banned forever for such subversive thoughts so I'll stop. Like I said, it was thought provoking.

The other thing that struck me was how Huxley showed those dissatisfied with their lot were generally only dissatisfied because they didn't fit in. Bernard and John Savage both would probably have been truly happy in their worlds if they had been accepted by society. So those raging most against social structures did it not because they didn't like the society, but because the society didn't like them.

The only exception was Helmholtz who truly understood the system, excelled in it but found it too limiting. What does that mean? Is Huxley trying to say that we humans really are adaptive beasts as long as we're in a tribe? That happiness is more about belonging than having appetities satisfied?

I suspect there are a good dozen themes in this book, all worthy of exploration. But maybe I've rambled enough for today.


message 14: by Catie (new)

Catie (nematome) I too found myself thinking about some of the BNW society's "advancements" and actually agreeing with some of them. I felt like, in the big conversational show-down between John and Mustapha, I didn't really think that either of them was right. So, I wonder...was John supposed to represent Huxley's own views? Or, was he just a severe counterpoint to the society's views? Is he saying that neither is right, or does he espouse John's way? I'm still not sure!


message 15: by Emily (new)

Emily  O (readingwhilefemale) | 140 comments Laura wrote: "In BNW people are trapped in the destiny chosen by them in a labratory. In our world people are trapped in the destiny chosen by chance: location of birth, stability of governments, quality of parenting, genetics, income, IQ, .... Is one more just than the other? Do we really have free will to chose our life? Sure, some of us have quite a bit (within bounds) much like the Alphas in BNW, but much of the world's population are really constrained in their options. Deltas without the conditioning to like it. "

Mind blown.
This is one of the more profound reactions to this book that I have ever heard. Most people (including myself) see this book only as a warning against an overload of trivial pleasurable things causing us to forget what is important. They read it as a critique of consumerist culture, not a commentary on the constraints forced on people by wealth, place of birth, race, gender, etc. You've definitely given me more to think about with regards to this book. I'll definitely have to remember this avenue of thought if I ever end up having my class read this.

Danielle wrote: "I can see why you guys found him annoying. None of the characters in this novel are really memorable or anyone you could get attached to."

I actually liked the beginning better because I couldn't get attached to any of the characters. Usually I'm all about being connected to the characters in a book, but I found this to be more of a novel of ideas, so the characters just got in my way. I was more interested in the society itself, and when Huxley started focusing on certain characters instead of the society I started losing interest.


message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Emily wrote: "Laura wrote: "In BNW people are trapped in the destiny chosen by them in a labratory. In our world people are trapped in the destiny chosen by chance: location of birth, stability of governments, q..."

Emily, my problem was that I found every person and society in the book problematic. The Savages lifestyle was far from perfect. The BNW was scary (though with some incredible advantages). Humans (well, at least the Alphas they showed us and the Savages) seemed to struggle with impending dissatisfaction. (I did wonder if the Epsilons were truly content - Huxley never gave us insight there). So I was left wondering "is there a society that works?". I'm still wondering the same. I have to say I'm rather unhappy with the current form whether consumerism or socialism, democracy or totalitarian regimes. It's hard to find, even on a micro scale, something that's really working for the masses. (Sorry to make it sound like we're DOOMED.)

Hence my less-than-common take on BNW.

Catie wrote: "I too found myself thinking about some of the BNW society's "advancements" and actually agreeing with some of them. I felt like, in the big conversational show-down between John and Mustapha, I di..."

Catie, I too came away from the book a bit puzzled as to what conclusion Huxley wanted us to reach. After spending a few minutes on Google it looks like he was writing a piece AGAINST totalitarian regimes - predicting a nasty future if the English and US trends were continued. But did he give us a viable alternative? Not that I could see.


message 17: by Catie (new)

Catie (nematome) Yeah, it makes me wonder...since the characters seemed so much like living embodiments of ideas and not real people. It seems like he was deliberately setting it up to be one set of ideals vs. another with the characters of John and Mustapha. I think that my disgust for John really hit home when he pushed Lenina away so violently. Especially since Huxley seems to go out of his way to write about Lenina potentially falling in love with him. I really got out of the book feeling like "we're all idiots!" I really wonder if that's the point he was trying to make. It's hard to believe that he would be a big fan of the way that John acts...but I guess it was a different time. Maybe he was?


message 18: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments Oh Dear. I hope not.

I think you sum it up well. A different title of the book could have been "We're all Idiots".


message 19: by Catie (new)

Catie (nematome) Ha! Actually, that's an idea that I can really get behind. I just wish that I could believe that's what he meant to say.


message 20: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) Part of being human is that we feel bad sometimes and are imperfect. Even when you try to force perfection and happiness, it doesn't work so well.


message 21: by Catie (new)

Catie (nematome) I like that Julie. So, you think that maybe he was trying to say "don't force perfection." That sounds more optimistic than "We're all idiots." :)


message 22: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments I am really trying to be a glass half full type but BNW is making it hard. "Don't Force Perfection" so easily slips into "You Haven't got a Chance".

*sigh*


message 23: by Catie (new)

Catie (nematome) Haha, yeah. I still really wonder if that's what he meant. It seems like John is supposed to be almost like a martyr of sorts at the end. Does he really see John as the hero? What do you all think?


message 24: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 56 comments I'm afraid he does. After taking a quick look at BNW Revisited (non-fiction by Huxley written 27 years after BNW) I'm pretty sure he thinks a life without strict government controls and without mass consumption is a better way to go. The fact that he made John so unloveable I take to mean he's a realist and knows even heroes are flawed.

I'm keen to see what other people think.


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