| Quote #22
One day, when he came in from playing, the door of the inner room was open, and he saw them lying together on the bed, asleep – white Linda and Popé almost black beside her, with one arm under her shoulders and the other dark hand on her breast, and one of the plaits of his long hair lying across her throat, like a black snake trying to strangle her. (8.42)
John's feeling that sex is dirty and violent begins here, in his childhood. He ascribes malevolence to Popé's relationship with his mother, and this is a great example of the way imagery is used in literature to convey emotion. We're talking about the contrast of white and darkness and, of course, about the snake.
| Quote #23
The magic was on his side, the magic explained and gave orders. He stepped back in the outer room. "When he is drunk asleep…" The knife for the meat was lying on the floor near the fireplace. He picked it up and tiptoed to the door again. "When he is drunk asleep, drunk asleep…" He ran across the room and stabbed – oh, the blood! – stabbed again, as Popé heaved out of his sleep, lifted his hand to stab once more, but found his wrist caught, held and – oh, oh! – twisted. He couldn't move, he was trapped, and there were Popé's small black eyes, very close, staring into his own. He looked away. There were two cuts on Popé's left shoulder. "Oh, look at the blood!" Linda was crying. "Look at the blood!" (8.45)
We discuss this in depth in John's character analysis, but this is where we were really convinced of his "Oedipus complex" – the male desire to kill his father and sleep with his mother. John really does try to kill Popé here, who is as close to a father figure as he has.
| Quote #24
A moment later he was inside the room. He opened the green suit-case; and all at once he was breathing Lenina's perfume, filling his lungs with her essential being. His heart beat wildly; for a moment he was almost faint. Then, bending over the precious box, he touched, he lifted into the light, he examined. The zippers on Lenina's spare pair of viscose velveteen shorts were at first a puzzle, then solved, a delight. Zip, and then zip; zip, and then zip; he was enchanted. Her green slippers were the most beautiful things he had ever seen. He unfolded a pair of zippicamiknicks, blushed, put them hastily away again; but kissed a perfumed acetate handkerchief and wound a scarf round his neck. Opening a box, he spilt a cloud of scented powder. His hands were floury with the stuff. He wiped them on his chest, on his shoulders, on his bare arms. Delicious perfume! He shut his eyes; he rubbed his cheek against his own powdered arm. Touch of smooth skin against his face, scent in his nostrils of musky dust – her real presence. "Lenina," he whispered. "Lenina!" (9.25)
Compare this passage to the one in Chapter Thirteen, when John refuses to have sex with Lenina and she ends up locking herself in the bathroom. These zippers come up again, and we get the same repetition of the words "Zip! Zip!" It's just that, by then, John is disgusted rather than fascinated – much the way his reaction to the new world changes.