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Brave New World

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

Third Person (Omniscient)

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley is a fan of giving his readers a ton of information. As such, the point of view is incredibly omniscient. That is, we get to know everything about every character – even the subconscious stuff they don't realize themselves. Check this out: "He knew that what he was saying was absurd in its injustice […]. But in spite of this knowledge […] Bernard continued perversely to nourish […] a secret grievance against the Savage." And we get this sort of psychoanalysis for most of the major characters in the text. That's omniscience for you.

One more thing. Take another look at Chapter One. You start off with an objective, detached description of the "squat, grey building of […] thirty-four stories." Easy enough. But before you know it, you're getting the Director's words without any quotations or "he said" tags. Observe:

"Bokanovsky's Process," repeated the Director, and the students underlined the words in their little notebooks.

One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.

"Essentially," the Director concluded, "bokanovskification consists…"


What's going on with that paragraph in the middle? Why doesn't it have quotes around it? It's easy to think that the narrative voice reveals this information. But in fact, the paragraph is part of the Director's speech, it's just that we're not explicitly told as much.

This is actually a nifty grammatical technique called "Implied Indirect Discourse," though you usually only hear the term when you learn Latin or Greek. The label is less complicated than it sounds. Start with "discourse." Discourse = speech. If you've got a sentence that reads, "Marie said 'hello,'" then "hello" is the discourse. Indirect means no quotations, so your sentence would say, "Marie said hello." "Hello" is now your indirect discourse. IMPLIED indirect discourse is indirect discourse without the little "Marie said" tag. The tag is implied. No quotes = indirect discourse. No quotes and no tags = implied indirect discourse, which is what you have going on in the early chapters of Brave New World.

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