Study Guide

Brave New World Chapter 14

By Aldous Huxley

Chapter 14

  • The scene opens at the Park Lane Hospital for the Dying. John arrives to see that the hospital is a haven of technology, with scents and televisions running at open tap all the time.
  • But he's had enough of that: he wants to see his mother. She's dying.
  • Linda is propped up in bed watching some futuristic version of tennis. She has been darting in and out of her soma-induced sleep.
  • The nurse hurries off to greet some children (remember that the young'ins are brought to the hospital to get desensitized to death), leaving John alone with his mom.
  • Looking at her now, John tries to recall the lively woman she once was by humming the songs she used to sing.
  • And then he remembers this world—the civilized worldas Linda used to describe it to him, as a "beautiful, beautiful Other Place […], a paradise of goodness and loveliness." He actually keeps these memories separate from the reality of what he has seen in London. It remains a place "whole and intact, undefiled."
  • John, crying, opens his eyes to find the "children" whom the nurse went to greet streaming into the room, one identical eight-year-old male after another, all dressed in khaki (so they're Deltas).
  • Of course, the kids are all in shock because they've never seen anyone like Linda before. She's overweight and old. John grabs one particularly disgusted child and gives him a good sock. The nurse rushes in.
  • She orders John to 1) stop hitting the children and 2) stop being such a bother, and then she leaves with the children and gets them playing hunt-the-zipper.
  • Linda starts to wake, and John tries to return to his pleasant memories. But all he can think of now is the not-so-pleasant stuff: Popé bleeding after he stabbed him and the boys calling Linda names. He tries to block these thoughts out by humming one of Linda's songs ("Vitamin D, vitamin D, vitamin D," not terribly captivating, but we're talking about a kid's song here).
  • The programmed scent in the room changes and Linda wakes. Um, sort of. She's still in her soma-stupor, so she just murmurs something about Popé.
  • Needless to say, this makes John upset, not because of the Freudian implications, but rather for the "Argh, my nice memories are destroyed because now all I can think about is the rank, vile sweat of my mom's lecherous bed."
  • So, in a rage, John shakes Linda awake, yelling at her, "I'm John! I'm John!"
  • Linda recognizes her son, but she's still tripped out on soma. In her mind, she's on vacation with her hunk of man meat (Popé, the mescal-man), and John is "intruding."
  • She starts to insist that "everyone belongs to every one else," but she basically dies right around the second "every."
  • John yells for help, so the nurse and all the identical eight-year-olds come into the room, but it's too late. John breaks down crying, which the Nurse worries will "decondition" the children into thinking death is actually something terrible.
  • John can do nothing now except repeat the word "God" over and overof course, no one knows what that is. When one of the children asks himcasually, while eating a chocolate éclairif Linda is dead, John knocks him over and walks away.