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

From the moment they set foot on the Reservation, Bernard and Lenina are confronted with the differences between it and their familiar world. Huxley shows the comfortable mindlessness of his Utopia by, contrasting it to the startling, often ugly reality of primitive life.

This life clearly lacks the new world's stability, friendliness, and cleanliness. The Indian guide is hostile, and he smells. The Reservation is dirty, full of rubbish, dust, dogs, and flies. An old man shows what aging does to the human body when it isn't protected by conditioning and chemicals; he is toothless, wrinkled, thin, bent.

Lenina has left her soma in the rest-house, so she is deprived of even that form of escape. She discovers that the Indians do have some kind of community; at first, a dance reassures her by reminding her of a solidarity service and orgy-porgy. The reassurance ends when she sees people dancing with snakes, effigies of an eagle and a man nailed to a cross, and a man whipping a boy until the blood runs. She can't understand the sense of community that runs through that kind of religion.

They then confront a man who will become the greatest threat to their world's stability. He steps into their rest-house and they see that, though raised an Indian, he has blond hair and white skin, and they hear that he speaks "faultless but peculiar English."


Bernard starts questioning the Savage and soon realizes that he is the son of the Director and the woman whom the Director had brought to the Reservation from what the stranger calls the "Other Place," the Utopia. The woman had not died. She had arrived pregnant with the Director's child by an accident, a defect in a Malthusian belt. During her visit she had fallen and hurt her head, but she survived to give birth, and she had reached middle age. Her son had grown up in the pueblo. Huxley tells you that the story excites Bernard.

The young man takes them to the little house where he lives with his mother, Linda. Lenina can barely stand to look at her, fat, sick, and stinking of alcohol. But the sight of Lenina brings out Linda's memories of the Other Place that is Huxley's new world, and of all the things she learned from her conditioning. She pours out what she remembers in a confused burst of woe.

NOTE:

Linda's speech helps complete the portrait of the society Huxley wants you to compare to the brave new world. Linda reveals her shame at having given birth. She complains about the shortcomings of mescal, the drink the Indians make (in real life as in the novel) from the mescal plant, compared to soma, and about the Indians' filth, their compulsion to mend clothes instead of discarding them when they get worn, and worst of all, their monogamy. The Indian women have attacked her for what she had thought of as the virtue of being promiscuous. They were asserting their own values and showing that their ideas of community, identity, and stability were the opposite of the world controllers'. Huxley doesn't romanticize these values or ideas, though. The Savage Reservation may not suffer under the sophisticated oppression of London, but neither is it paradise.

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Barron's Booknotes-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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