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

This short chapter sets up the steps from confrontation to climax, the decisive point in the development of the story. Lenina goes on an 18-hour soma "trip" to escape from the horrors she encountered on the Reservation. Bernard helicopters to Sante Fe and puts in a long-distance call to Mustapha Mond, the Controller, back in London. He tells Mond the story of Linda and John-and presumably of the Director. Huxley doesn't spell that out, but you know it's true because you know that Bernard wants to protect himself from the Director's threat of exile in Iceland, and because Huxley told you in Chapter Eight that Bernard had been "secretly elaborating" a strategy from the moment he realized who John's father must be. Mond issues orders to bring them back to London.

Indeed Bernard is plotting his own advancement, as you can see from the way he shows off to the Warden about the orders to take John and Linda back with him. He likes to think he's different from his fellows, but he also wants to be accepted or, better, looked up to. Yet he is being different; most of the citizens of the brave new world wouldn't dare to do what he's now doing. In this world, being different may threaten community, identity, and stability. Do you think Bernard's actions threaten those goals? Do you think he intends to make such threats? He might endanger them without wanting to.


Meanwhile John observes Lenina asleep. He has fallen in love with her as quickly as Miranda with Ferdinand, or Romeo with Juliet, and he quotes Romeo and Juliet to her as she sleeps. This sublime emotion marks him as a Savage, in contrast to the civilized worldlings who believe in their commandment to be promiscuous: "Everyone belongs to everyone else." John believes instead in an idea he found among the Indians but knows better in Shakespearean language, the idea of "pure and vestal modesty." ("Vestal" is the name of ancient Roman priestesses who had to be virgins.) He does have sexual feelings: he thinks of unzipping Lenina and then hates himself for the mere thought. Do you think she would understand this if she woke up and heard him murmuring to himself?

John is aroused from his reverie by the return of Bernard's rather un-Shakespearean helicopter. Huxley had not yet written any film scripts when he wrote this book, but he is using a screenwriting technique, making the helicopter prepare you visually for a change of scene in the next chapter. Perhaps his poor vision made him more conscious of the need to see things happen, and to make the reader see things happen.

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Barron's Booknotes-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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