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Barron's Booknotes-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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CHAPTER FIVE

This chapter gives more dimensions to the familiar pictures of Lenina as hedonist and well-trained citizen and Bernard as a malcontent among contented comrades. In scene one, Lenina and Henry return from their Obstacle Golf game. By now you know that Huxley has a reason, which will be revealed in a later chapter, for scattering bits of technological and ideological information along their path-like Henry's telling Lenina that the dead are all cremated so the new world can recover the phosphorus from their bodies. They have dinner and go to a nightclub in what was Westminster Abbey 600 years earlier. There they listen to a kind of electronic pop music that might describe what rock musicians play on Moog synthesizers 50 years after the book was written.

They get high on soma and go up to Henry's room for a night of sex. Lenina is so well conditioned that despite her high, she takes all the contraceptive precautions she learned in the Malthusian drill she performed three times a week, every week for six years of her teens. Huxley uses Lenina to underline the point that pregnancy is a sin, a crime, and a disgusting ailment in the world of Hatcheries, and that it almost never happens.

Scene two switches to Bernard, who attends a solidarity service, the equivalent of a religious service, where he reveals new dimensions of his difference from other brave new worldlings, and of his unhappiness. The new world version of a church is a Community Singery. The one Bernard attends is a skyscraper on the site a Londoner would know as St. Paul's Cathedral.

Every solidarity service takes place in a group of twelve people, six men and six women who sit in a circle, sing twelve-stanza hymns, and take a communion of solid and liquid soma instead of wafers and wine. The participants all go into a religious frenzy-except for Bernard, who doesn't really feel the ecstasy, but pretends to.


The frenzy takes the members of the group into a dance and the song that is one of the most remembered bits of this book, the parody of a nursery rhyme:

Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun, Kiss the girls and make them One. Boys at one with girls at peace; Orgy-porgy gives release.

The group then does indeed fall "in partial disintegration" into a real orgy, though it seems to be by couples rather than group sex.

Even that doesn't give Bernard the experience of true rapture that his partners seem to feel. Huxley underlines that this rapture is not the same as excitement, because if you're excited, you're still not satisfied. This feeling is satisfying. Bernard is miserable that he has not achieved it, and thinks the failure must have been his own fault.

In this scene, Huxley satirizes both religion and sex, but still shows how both serve one of the goals of the brave new world, Community.

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Barron's Booknotes-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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