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Brave New World

Brave New World


by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World Chapter 3 Summary

  • Now we're outside the building. Everyone is enjoying the sunshine and the helicopters, and the sounds of naked children playing Centrifugal Bumble-puppy (you can read a lovely and detailed description in your book.)
  • The Director muses on how odd it is that people used to play games that—unlike Centrifugal Bumble-puppy—didn't require a complicated apparatus or two.
  • Meanwhile, two small children are engaging in a "rudimentary sexual game." Eeek!
  • The Director converses with a nurse who is concerned over one boy who refuses to play his ordinary erotic games with a little girl, who herself is quite confused with her peer's hesitation.
  • The Director tells her to find some other little boy to play with.
  • The Director, a.k.a. the D.H.C. (Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning) tells his students about a time when little children were not allowed to play erotic games with one another.
  • The conversation is interrupted by one Mustapha Mond, who it appears is one of only ten "World Controllers." In other words, this guy is the big cheese. They even call him "his fordship."
  • Meanwhile, the clocks strike four and the staff working the first shift of the day exits and is replaced by another group of equally mindless drones. Lenina Crowne (the nurse from earlier) is one of those to exit the grey building.
  • Back to this Mustapha Mond guy (most intimidating name ever). The students are practically peeing their pants to be in his presence. We get our nifty "straight from the horse's mouth" phrase again, this time in regard to the World Controller, rather than the Director.
  • The Controller, in his "strong deep voice," reminds the students of a saying of Our Ford's: "History is bunk."
  • He then waves his hand in the air, which the text narrates as his whisking away years of history and mythology—he whisks away Odysseus and Harappa and Rome and Jerusalem. You get the (disturbing) picture. Along with this history go "Passion," "Requiem," and "Symphony."
  • While the Controller is busy whisking, we cut to the Assistant Predestinator, who's asking Henry Foster if he's going "to the feelies" this evening, since the current show features a sex scene on a bearskin rug and you can really feel "every hair of the bear" with the amazing "tactical effects."
  • And we're back to the Controller, who concludes that this is exactly why people today aren't taught history.
  • The Director is nervous that the Controller might reveal some history to these students—after all, he knows that there are rumors of bibles and poetry hidden in the secret possession of The Controller.
  • But the Controller assures him not to worry—he won't "corrupt" these students.
  • And we cut back to the conversation about the feelies; Bernard Marx from the Psychology Bureau is listening in with contempt as Henry Foster declares he will definitely go check out the bearskin rug.
  • Back to the Controller, who is still talking about dreadfully inappropriate subject matter like "parents" and "homes."
  • Now we jump to a third scene: Lenina Crowne heading to the dressing room on the 17th story, where all the girls are taking baths or getting "vibro-vacuum massages."
  • She greets a girl named Fanny Crowne, but their last names are just a coincidence (with only ten-thousand last names in this world, it happens a lot).
  • We cut back to the Controller, now describing what a "home" used to look like, with no sterilizing conditions and all. A young student is almost sick.
  • Lenina meanwhile is engaging in what appears to be some sort of standard post-workday routine (bath, powder, perfume, massage, etc.).
  • The Controller continues his story out in the yard: apparently, in these disgusting houses, emotions were everywhere. Yuck.
  • We return to Lenina, who converses with Fanny. Fanny, it seems, hasn't been doing too well lately; Dr. Wells has suggested she have a "pregnancy substitute."
  • Lenina looks over the various vials she has to take on her locker shelf. Think of them as daily vitamins, except instead of fiber and iron it's "Mammary Gland Extract" and "Placentin."
  • The Controller continues to speak of "Our Ford," sometimes known as "Our Freud." (Oh, the cleverness, the wit—we can't take it anymore.)
  • Ford or Freud or whoever realized that families were a problem, but mainly because they bred emotion.
  • Back to the chatty girls in the locker room; Lenina reveals she's going to see Henry Foster again tonight, and Fanny is shocked that she's still going out with the same guy. (Seriously, monogamy was so pre-Ford.)
  • Meanwhile, the Controller is discussing… monogamy! (Funny how narrative structuring works like that, isn't it?) The problem with pre-Ford monogamy, he says, is that it doesn't make sense, because everyone should belong to everyone else (this is one of the phrases repeated to sleeping babies, by the way).
  • Cut to the locker room: Lenina protests that she's only been with Henry four months. It's apparent from Fanny's response that four months is unacceptably long, and Lenina admits that there hasn't been any other man during that time. Fanny reminds her how much the Director is against this sort of thing.
  • (We're still bouncing back and forth between these different conversations.)
  • The Controller's argument against monogamy is this: human emotion is like a pipe carrying water. Pierce it once, out comes a massive jet of water. But pierce it twenty times, and there's only a minor piddling from each hole. It keeps a person stable, he says, to have multiple outlets like this.
  • Back to Fanny, who is pleased to hear that the Director patted Lenina on the behind today.
  • The Controller continues. You need this individual stability because it leads to social stability. You need the wheels to keep turning, and you need men around to keep turning them. Otherwise, everyone will die.
  • Fanny tells Lenina to be more promiscuous. They both agree wholeheartedly that "everyone belongs to every one else."
  • The idea, the Controller says, is to allow the flow of human desire to run unchecked; put a barrier in its way, and things will spiral quickly out of control. So let people have everything they want—immediately. Shorten the interval between desire and consummation. With any luck, you can get rid of emotion altogether!
  • Now we go back to Henry Foster and Bernard Marx. Henry declares that Lenina is a wonderfully "pneumatic" (as in, full of emptiness) girl—he recommends that the Assistant Director "have her" as soon as possible.
  • Bernard Marx hears this and turns pale.
  • Meanwhile, Lenina says she's getting tired of just Henry anyway—she's starting to get interested in this other guy, Bernard Marx, an Alpha-Plus. He has asked her to visit a Savage Reservation with him.
  • But Fanny is concerned because Bernard has a poor reputation. He doesn't like Obstacle Golf, and he spends time… alone (gasp!).
  • But Lenina is determined to "spend time with" (i.e., have sex with) Bernard, even if he is ridiculously shy around her.
  • The Controller asks the students whether any of them has had to deal with a difficult obstacle, or if they ever wanted something they didn't get.
  • A boy admits he once had to wait four weeks before a girl let him have sex with her.
  • Back to Bernard, who is disgusted by the other men's conversation because they speak of Lenina as mere meat. He wants to hit them both in the face. Hard. And maybe even twice.
  • Meanwhile, the Controller is speaking about Christianity, which severely got in the way when the current methods were first introduced.
  • Lenina tells Fanny she likes Bernard's looks, even though Fanny finds him stunted and small. (Supposedly someone messed up and gave his bottle some alcohol when he was a zygote.)
  • In England, the Controller continues, hypnopaedia was once illegal.
  • Bernard Marx, it turns out, is a hypnopaedia expert. He considers everyone "idiots" for repeating the same phrases over and over.
  • Mustapha (the Controller) moves on to his opinion on democracy—an absurd notion that men are "equal."
  • (The text now starts jumping around between the three conversations even faster; we're leaving them clumped together here so you get the picture.)
  • Lenina says she's going to accept Bernard's date to the Savage Reservation.
  • The Controller narrates that The Nine Years' war (an international war) occurred in A.F. 141 and brought devastating chemical and biological warfare. People had no choice but to accept World Control as the only solution.
  • The Assistant Predestinator remarks that Fanny, too, is a nice girl for hanging out (sex).
  • We cut to the nurseries and see the little children repeating their "Class Consciousness" lessons over and over.
  • Mustapha Mond continues. You can't govern by force, he says, and so they had to make the people want to be controlled.
  • And now for the full effect you can only get by reading: the words of Mustapha as he lectures the students become indiscernible from the phrases being repeated to the children in the nursery, which themselves are indistinguishable from the words of Fanny and Lenina, who have been indoctrinated the same way.
  • Anyway, we see that Lenina is wearing green and a "Malthusian belt" full of contraceptives, which means she's a woman who isn't sterile.
  • (Note: Lenina wearing green might suggest she's a Gamma, but we find out shortly that she is not; every indication points to her being upper caste (so Alpha or Beta). Why she's wearing green, then, is subject to debate. It seems likely to us that members of the upper castes get to wear whatever they want; there's no mention of them being color-coded like the mindless drones beneath them.)
  • Mustapha narrates that Pfitzner and Kawaguchi were the two big guys to come up with effective propaganda and mind control. It is they who declared a "war against the Past" by closing museums and blowing up monuments, etc. He explains to the students that this is why they've never heard of these mysterious things like "pyramids" and "Shakespeare."
  • Meanwhile, Lenina and Fanny discuss her belt. Henry Foster gave it to her.
  • We hear the indoctrinating hypnopaedia: "Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches."
  • The Controller declares that they picked the introduction of the first Ford T-Model as the starting point for their new system of dates. All religious crosses had their tops cut off to resemble a "T."
  • He adds that people used to believe in heaven and souls, but they also used to drink a lot of alcohol. And use morphine and cocaine. Related? He thinks so.
  • Bernard continues to rage against Foster and the Assistant Predestinator; the worst part, he thinks, is that Lenina thinks of herself as meat, too.
  • Mustapha continues: then they got rid of all these substances and created the perfect drug to replace it. Said perfect drug is euphoric, a narcotic, and a hallucinogen.
  • Cut to Bernard, who in his silent rage is looking rather glum. His chums tell him he should take some soma, which we're guessing is the drug Mustapha's discussing.
  • Bernard refuses and then loses his cool, yelling, "Damn you!" at the Assistant Predestinator. But the man simply laughs off Bernard's murderous rage and leaves with Dr. Foster.
  • Mustapha says that, after illegal substances, the next thing to conquer was old age. Men now can work their whole lives instead of looking forward to any eventual retirement, which is dangerous, as it provides time for people to think.
  • Fanny leaves Lenina so she can go play some Obstacle Golf.
  • When a little girl in the yard outside tries to play with the Controller, the Director yells at her to leave his fordship alone. Mustapha responds: "Suffer little children," which is like a masochistic version of Jesus's famous quote: "Suffer the little children unto me."
  • And we end with an image of the conveyor belt sliding slowly forward at thirty-three centimeters per hour.

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