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Free Study Guide-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley-Free Booknotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 8

Summary

While Linda narrates to Lenina her experiences, outside the house Bernard seeks an account of the intervening years from John. He acknowledges the total difference between their two worlds and asks John to explain his life from the beginning. As already hinted by Linda, John resents his mother's relationships with other men. Her ignorance of the rules of the Reservation lands her in trouble with its inhabitants; the men either exploit or scorn her, while the women resent her promiscuity. Pope, Linda's most regular visitor, also introduces her to alcohol, which leads to further problems.

John says that he has tried to find acceptance in this society, but his physical difference and his mother's behavior result in his alienation. He is excluded from the various initiation rites of the savages and remains isolated on the reservation. The relationship with his mother is also a fluctuating one, for Linda is not constant in her emotions for her son. She has, however, taught John to read and has explained to him all about "her" world. John has come across a collection of Shakespeare and has been greatly influenced by the writing. He revels in its world of imagination and is molded by Shakespeare's views and expectations of humanity.


Bernard, understanding John's isolation and loneliness, suggests that he and his mother could return to London with them if he can obtain permission from his superiors. John is excited at the prospect; he is eager to be amongst his own people and wants to further his acquaintance with Lenina. Like Miranda in Shakespeare's "The Tempest," John expects to see "beauteous humankind" in the "brave new world." Bernard naturally fails to recognize the literary allusion to Shakespeare. But Bernard has his own reasons for taking John back to London; he wants to entrap the Director of the Hatcheries, the man who has threatened to exile him.

Notes

This chapter is touching in many ways. John, a product of the reservation, is much more appealing than Bernard has ever been. But because his appearance and background are very different, he is not accepted on the reservation. He has lived in isolation and misery. His intense sincerity, however, offers a refreshing contrast to the superficiality of the Utopians. In contrast, Linda, his mother, is a real mess, a mixture of both the new world and the old. Abandoned on the reservation by the Director, she has never fit in to this society of savages. Holding fast to the ways of the new world, she has casual relationships with men and refuses to follow other rules of the old order; as a result, she is used and ostracized by the people on the reservation. Torn as she is, she cannot even give John what he needs. Her emotions for him run from hot to cold. She cannot understand his savage ways and tries to give him her part of the new world, teaching him to read and explaining the "other" life. John longs to leave the reservation and experience the brave new world. In Bernard and Lenina, he sees his opportunity.

Up until this point, the less attractive aspects of the new world have been presented, including sterility, uniformity, and dictatorial rule. Linda, largely a product of the new world, is unable to operate outside the narrow sphere in which she is trained, indicating the negative aspects of specialization that are really present in today's world. But in this chapter, positive "utopian" features are also presented, including cleanliness, hygiene, absence of disease, discipline, prosperity, and peaceful co-existence. All of these positive features are absent on the Reservation.

The chapter ends on a note of anticipation, both positive and negative. Bernard has suggested to John that he and his mother return to London with him; John is delighted with the suggestion and is sure that he will encounter "beauteous humankind" away from the reservation. The reader, however, is made to wonder what lies ahead for these characters, especially John the Savage, in the brave new world. Bernard's words cautioning against John's high opinion of London and the new world strike a rather ominous note. Additionally, Bernard's purpose in taking John and Linda back with him is less than honorable.

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