Study Guide

Brave New World Chapter 11

By Aldous Huxley

Chapter 11

  • Of course the big spectacle that just went down becomes all the rage.
  • So what happens? Well, the Director resigns immediately. Linda is ostracized, because no one wants to see an overweight older woman. Not that it bothers her at all. She settles down to a solitary life of nothing but soma, 24/7.

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  • The doctor realizes that with her taking as much as twenty grams of soma a day, she's going to die in about a month or two. Again, that doesn't seem to bother anyone.
  • Except John. Fortunately, the Doctor is able to convince him that he's actually lengthening Linda's life, since an hour or two on soma holiday feels like a whole eternity. John responds by quoting a line from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra: "Eternity was in our lips and eyes."
  • So that's pretty much it for Linda.
  • But John is a different story. He's still young and really good-looking, and everyone is interested in him. This makes Bernard all chipper, since now everyone goes out of their way to be nice to him, too.
  • Even Fanny admits that Bernard is a good guy.
  • With his newfound popularity, Bernard's been sleeping with a lot of women lately. Like, one or two girls a day, as he joyfully tells Helmholtz Watson.
  • Helmholtz is gloomy. Bernard thinks he's jealous, but Helmholtz responds that he's "rather sad." Bernard leaves in a huff and tells himself he'll never speak to his friend again. (Are you starting to like this guy less and less or what?)
  • So Bernard, who finally has respect and all the sex he can handle, starts to really love this world he once despised. But he still likes to criticize it all the time, because 1) he can, and 2) it makes him feel even more important.
  • Needless to say, this starts frustrating people. They just pretend to like Bernard because of his connection to the savage, John.
  • Cut to Bernard himself, up high in the Charing-T Tower with some weathermen (weird, yes) and John. He tries to impress John with the fact that a flying machine called the Bombay Green Rocket can travel at 1,250 kilometers an hour (about 800 mph), but John simply responds that Ariel (the magic fairy thing from Shakespeare's The Tempest) could go round the earth in forty minutes. SO THERE.
  • In his written report to Mustapha Mond, Bernard describes how John really isn't that awed by the new world. He adds that John seems to be preoccupied with this thing called "the soul."
  • But what Bernard writes isn't as important as how he writes ithe's condescending and quite insulting to Mustapha in his presumptions. Mustapha is all, "I'll teach that arrogant little jerk a lesson, but maybe later because I'm kind of busy right now."
  • Now we jump to a small factory, part of the Electrical Equipment Corporation. There, the Human Element Manager takes John on a tour, pointing out the assembly-line-style work that's being done.
  • John sees dozens of identical (bokanovskified) workers laboring in endless repetition. Because they are of the lower castes (Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons), many of them are deformed (noseless, dwarfish, etc.). Unable to stand the sight, John runs off to be violently sick, but not before repeating Miranda's words from The Tempest: "O brave new world, that has such people in it."
  • Bernard writes more in his reports. He thinks it odd that the Savage goes to see his mother so often. It seems that John has overcome the "natural impulse" to "recoil from an unpleasant object."
  • Next, John visits Eton, a school in London. Accompanied, as always, by Bernard, he meets his tour guides, Dr. Gaffney (the Provost) and Miss Keate (the Headmistress).
  • While John makes sure there won't be dozens of identical drones here, Bernard hits on Miss Keate.
  • John is baffled by the Alpha-Double-Plus students, who are learning about elementary relativity. He later learns that "Savage Reservations" are places that weren't worth the expense to civilize. He is also horrified to see that a class watching scenes of devout Christians beating themselves while asking for Jesus's forgiveness can do nothing but laugh at the scenes before them.
  • Meanwhile, in the darkness of the classroom, Bernard is flirting with Miss Keate.
  • John asks the kids if they read Shakespeare. The answer is no, because if they're only looking for entertainment, they'd rather go to the feelies. They don't condone "solitary amusements."
  • Next, several busloads of children arrive, fresh in from the CREMATORIUM (!!!). There, they received toys and ice cream, so as to be conditioned into the attitude that death is nothing to get upset about.
  • While John holds back his disgust, Bernard makes a date for that evening with the Headmistress.
  • On the way back home, Bernard and John stop at the Television Corporation factory. While Bernard runs inside, John watches the lower caste men on their way home from work, each with a little cardboard box.
  • Bernard returns; John, thinking of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, asks him about the contents of those little "caskets." (For details on this and other Shakespeare references, see our "Allusions" page.)
  • Bernard explains that the boxes all have two grams of soma— their daily ration.
  • Meanwhile, back at the Changing Room, Lenina dresses excitedly, revealing to Fanny that Bernard is busy so she gets to take "the Savage" to the feelies for the night.
  • Fanny thinks to herself that Lenina is lucky to share so much of Bernard's spotlight in regards to the Savage. More to the point, all the big important men have been having sex with her.
  • But, Lenina says, most of these men just want to hear about what it's like to have sex with the Savage. Basically, no one believes her when she says she never slept with him.
  • That transitions the girls nicely into the conversation of whether or not John likes Lenina. He avoids her, she says, but he also seems to stare at her a lot, which is confusing. (Of course, those of us who experienced pigtail-pulling on the playground don't find this confusing at all, but if you've been brought up playing erotic games of "hunt the zipper," subtlety isn't exactly your forte.)
  • John's feelings aside, one thing is certain: Lenina has the hots for him. And she thinks tonight's as good a chance as any for them to finally hook up.
  • At the feelies that night, she and John relax to the smells and sounds of the scent organ (just… read your book. We can't explain this one to you). There's a big deal made out of the fact that the musical notes can range as low as the lowest note ever sung and as high as, well, the highest note ever sung (by humans, anyway).
  • Two senses down, two more on the way when the feely starts.
  • The feely playing tonight is Three Weeks in a Helicopter.
  • We start off with… a sex scene. John, because he's holding onto the amazing technological breakthrough that is the feely armrest, can feel the tingling on his lips. And other places. There's also the aforementioned bearskin rug. No joke.
  • So the sex in question is between a black man (unknown caste) and a Beta-Plus blonde. Everything is going fine (in the film) until the man bumps his head, gets a concussion, and becomes madly in love with the blonde, which is not allowed in a world where everyone belongs to everyone else.
  • The black man kidnaps the blonde women and takes her up in his helicopter for… you got it, three weeks. But not to worry; all ends well. The helicopter is apprehended, the man is sent to Adult Re-conditioning, and the blonde has sex with all three of the men who rescued her.
  • Sometime during this sex-fest, the bearskin rug is brought out for a second appearance, and everyone stops to have a symphony of sexophones.
  • Needless to say, Lenina is unbelievably turned on by the time the feely is over. Anyway, she's pretty much ready to go. She takes John's arm and brings it toward her, but he's all bashful with downcast eyes and such. Feeling unworthy, he tells Lenina she shouldn't see things like that (meaning the sex scenes like those in the feely).
  • This makes Lenina feel bad, but it doesn't kill her interest in him at all. When their taxicopter lands on the roof of her apartment building, she fully expects John to follow her inside.
  • Of course, being the gentleman "savage" and all, John simply says "good night" and gets into the helicopter. Looking below him as his helicopter zooms off, he can see Lenina standing on the roof calling after him.
  • After arriving safely at home, John sits down to read Othello. He remembers that Othello, much like the man in the feely, is a black man.
  • Cut to Lenina, who is horribly upset and, predictably, takes some soma to deal with it.