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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
This is an emotional chapter with John at the bedside of his dying mother. Once again the difference in the old and new world is clearly depicted. Linda is an anomaly, wrinkled and old in every way. All the others in the Senility Ward have aged only in heart and brain; their appearance is much more youthful than that of the ugly and flabby Linda. As the nurse watches the Savage, she cannot understand John's totally unorthodox grief and is shocked at his use of the word "mother." Neither can she understand his reminiscing about his childhood days with Linda. John is similarly horrified about the children's visit as part of their "death conditioning" as he feels it is a gross intrusion and violently shoos them away.
Linda, in her few conscious moments, thinks that John is Pope, her lover from the Reservation. John is infuriated that he is not recognized, and his grief turns to rage. He grabs his mother and shakes her violently; she gasps for air and chokes. Coming to his sense, John rushes out to find the nurse; by the time he returns, Linda is dead. He breaks down in uncontrollable sorrow and slowly walks out of the ward.
John's relationship with Linda, especially in this chapter set at her deathbed, is highly reminiscent of Hamlet's relationship with his mother; it is a mixture of love and jealousy, pain and resentment. Grief-stricken over the thought of losing her (and his one tie to the old order), John desperately attempts to restore their relationship to a loving and pure one, like he imagined from his childhood. His dream is doomed to failure, for Linda is not capable of truly loving her son; she is too much a product of the new world. In fact, she mistakes John for Pope, her past lover. The Savage truly becomes savage in his grief over his mother's non-recognition. He grabs her and shakes her violently, causing her to choke. Regaining his senses, he goes for help, but it is too late. When he returns, Linda is dead. John is uncontrollable in his sorrow.
In contrast to John's grief, characteristic of the old world, is the matter of fact approach and disbelief of the nurse and the reactions of the children who are more curious than disturbed by death.