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Themes

Society in the futuristic setting of Brave New World is split into five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons, with a few minor distinctions in between. Because of the technology wielded by the World State's leaders, caste is pre-determined and humans are grown in a manner appropriate to their status; the lower the caste, the dumber the individual is created to be. As adults, the upper two castes interact socially with each other but never with the lesser groups. In short, class is yet another mechanism for stability and control on the part of the government. It's also a big part of the reason that personal identity goes by the wayside in this novel – Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are simply faceless drones in color-coded outfits who exist to serve the more intelligent Alphas and Betas.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Huxley pretty much exclusively focuses on characters of Alpha or Beta status. Why do we get so little insight into the life of the lower castes?
  2. Is Mustapha right in his insistence that a society of all Alphas would fail? What did you think of that "Cyprus experiment" discussed in Chapter Sixteen?
  3. Do Alphas seem to be the least satisfied of all the citizens in the World State? If Epsilons really are happy with their lives, then what's wrong (morally) with making them that way?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The caste system is the greatest tool the World State has to subdue its citizens.

Soma is more vital to the upper castes than it is to the lower ones.

Soma is more vital to the lower castes than it is to the upper ones.

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