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Characters

John the Savage Timeline and Summary

  • John comes out of the shadows at the ritualistic dance, meets Bernard and Lenina, and tells them that he wishes he could have been whipped to a pulp instead of that other guy.
  • When he finally sees Lenina's face, he's love-struck.
  • John takes Lenina and Bernard back to his home and introduces them to his mother. While Linda bonds with Lenina inside, he goes outside with Bernard and narrates his personal history.
  • John talks all about how his mom is basically the town prostitute, but only because she doesn't know any better. He moves on to explain his learning how to read. Since the only book Linda had for him was an instruction guide for embryo storage, his education was generally less than ideal until he got The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
  • Shakespeare quickly became an emotional conduit for John. He saw bits of himself in many of the characters, and he used the literature to understand his feelings, particularly his anger toward Popé, the guy sleeping with his mother.
  • In fact, John even got the idea of murdering Popé from reading Hamlet. He gave it a shot, but Popé stopped him and sent him on his way.
  • Generally, he says, he was ostracized for being white and for having a promiscuous mother.
  • John also explains to Bernard how he used to hurt himself on purpose to be more like Jesus, to prove he was a man.
  • When Bernard asks John to return to the civilized world with him, John gets excited, asks if Linda can come too, and really lets loose once he's told that, no, Bernard isn't married to Lenina. This is where he first quotes Miranda's "brave new world" line from The Tempest.
  • While Bernard is off making phone calls, John breaks into their room and finds Lenina sleeping (she's actually on a soma trip) on the bed. He falls even more in love with her as he rifles through her things. When Bernard approaches, John scuttles off.
  • Back in the World State, John makes a grand entrance by calling out the Director as being his father.
  • When the Doctor reveals that Linda is going to die in a month or two, John is the only one bothered by this fact. But he seems to have no say in the matter.
  • John is brought around the new world on a variety of tours and introduced to important folk at Bernard's dinner party.
  • John appears to have trouble distinguishing between the reality of the World State, the myths he heard from Linda, and the Shakespeare he read as a child. He keeps mixing everything up.
  • Bernard's letter to Mustapha details John's adjustment to the new world: he is preoccupied with the soul and not terribly impressed with their technology.
  • Faced with the terrifying image of dozens and dozens of bokanovskified twins, John vomits.
  • John visits Eton along with Bernard. He is baffled by a lesson in Physics, disgusted by a group of students laughing at a video of religious fanatics, and expresses wonder at the fact that no one is allowed to read Shakespeare.
  • He also sees a group of children coming back from the Crematorium, having been conditioned to think death is not such a big deal.
  • John and Bernard stop off at the Television Corporation Factory, where he learns about the lower castes and their daily soma rations.
  • John ends up going a date with Lenina to the feelies, where they see Three Weeks in a Helicopter. While this turns on Lenina, it makes John feel entirely embarrassed and ashamed.
  • When they get to her house, John says good night (awkwardly) while she remains confused over his not having sex with her.
  • Next thing we know, John has locked himself in his room and refuses to come out and play the centerpiece for Bernard's dinner party. John curses at Bernard in Zuñi.
  • While Bernard is socially crippled, John sits around reading Romeo and Juliet and fantasizing in a PG-way about Lenina.
  • The next day, John berates Bernard for taking soma instead of reveling in the humanity of emotion.
  • John becomes great friends with Helmholtz. They bond over Shakespeare until Helmholtz starts guffawing at Juliet's tortured emotions.
  • When Lenina shows up at his place, John admits (under a lot of pressure) that he loves her. But, he says, he wants to do something to prove himself worthy, like kill a bear or maybe vacuum her carpets.
  • He adds that he wants to get married, which doesn't go over too well with Lenina.
  • When she strips and throws herself at him, John calls her a whore and hits her, sending her running for the bathroom.
  • He hands her her clothes through the ventilator and would probably continue with his stream of "Impudent Strumpet!" accusations except he gets a phone call from the hospital with the news that his mother is dying.
  • John rushes to Linda's bedside. Since she's still way tripped-out on soma, he just sits there and tries to focus on the best memories he has of her.
  • Unfortunately, this moment is interrupted by a group of Delta children being conditioned to think that death is not a sad thing. John gets angry, but the nurse warns him not to cause a scene in front of the children.
  • So he goes back to focusing on Linda. When she starts to wake, she keeps calling John Popé even though he angrily tries to get her to recognize him.
  • When Linda dies, John breaks down crying and pushes over one of the small boys who is eating an éclair and observing with all the detachment of a brainwashed stoic moron.
  • When John goes to leave the hospital, he encounters all the Delta workers waiting in line for their daily soma ration. He realized that Linda died while imprisoned by soma, and he decides he should free all the Deltas by throwing their drugs out the window.
  • This causes a riot. Sometime in the middle Helmholtz and Bernard show up, and the whole scene ends with all three men being apprehended by the police.
  • While they wait for the Controller, John doesn't seem upset at all. Once Mustapha arrives, John freely admits that he doesn't really like civilization.
  • The two men get to talking about Shakespeare. John wishes they could let people read it in the World State, but Mustapha counters that they wouldn't understand it.
  • John berates the feelies as stories "told by an idiot."
  • He wants to know why everyone isn't an Alpha-Double-Plus, and Mustapha answers by explaining about the Cyprus Experiment.
  • Once Helmholtz and Bernard are gone, John is left alone with the Controller. He declares that beauty and truth are pretty big sacrifices to make just for happiness.
  • They move on to the topic of religion. John has a hard time expressing his own spiritual discoveries.
  • John argues that, if Mustapha believes in God, he ought to have a reason for self-denial. He ought to realize that morality and value are absolutes and not relative.
  • Suffering, John says, is necessary. It's what makes us human. There's something to living dangerously, he argues, and he likes life's inconveniences. Actually, he wants to be unhappy or at least the right to be unhappy.
  • The next day, Bernard and Helmholtz find John throwing up in the bathroom. He explains that he's trying to purge himself of civilization and wickedness.
  • John accepts Bernard's apology for being a jerk the day before and explains that Mustapha refused to let John go to the island with Helmholtz. Since John refuses to be experimented with any longer, he has decided to go away.
  • "Away" ends up meaning a lighthouse outside of London. Bringing very little food and just enough supplies to keep himself alive, John embarks on a spiritual journey of self-inflicted pain and purging.
  • He tries to focus on the memory of his mother, but Lenina keeps creeping into his thoughts.
  • Things are going as planned until word gets out and reporters show up. John refuses to answer their questions and tries to chase them away from his new home.
  • After Darwin Bonaparte makes a feely out of John's self-mutilation, crowds of fans come to see the whipping live and in person.
  • John threatens to whip the crowd, but this isn't too effective in making them go away.
  • When Lenina shows up, John charges and whips both her and himself while the crowd follows suit. A giant, frenzied orgy of whipping ensues.
  • The next morning, John wakes up and "remember[s] everything." He hangs himself (though we don't see him actually commit suicide, we do see his dead body hanging afterward).
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