This week we continue our review of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with Chapters 7-9. I have to admit that I am starting to lose steam with the book. This is where I hope some book nerds can come and save the day. Chapters 7 and 8 spent a lot of time describing life on the savage reservation and it sounds horrible. Are we supposed to be cheering for the Brave New World? I’m not sure yet.
Chapter 7 (We get the big reveal…dun dun duuuuun)
It is a battle between the two Ls, Lenina and Linda, for the most annoying human being on the planet. Lenina starts us off with complaining about EVERYTHING. The guide is too smelly, the hills around her are too big, the village is too dirty, that person is too old, that one is too naked. And as a reader when I found out that she forgot her soma, I was devastated. She was going to keep this up the entire trip to the village. Oh boy. The dance/ritual in the chapter is done very well. It does a great job building up the intensity with the drumming and singing and whipping of the young boy. I liked the irony put in place as Lenina notes that the drums reminded her of the Solidarity Services and the singing were reminiscent of a lower-caste Community Sing. It really helped illuminate Lenina’s ethnocentric thinking and her inability to understand how people could live a life different from hers.
However, this chapter completely changes focus as we are presented with the big reveal. That woman that went missing years ago as she was camping at the Savage Reservation with the Director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre is still alive. Not too shocking to guess, but wait there’s more. She also has a son, who is the Director’s son. Let’s just mention how convenient it is that the Director just happens to tell Bernard his little story in Chapter 6. At first I was thinking “If the Director never said anything, then it is possible that Bernard would not have known that John was his son.” But then, later in the chapter, when we meet Linda, this becomes a moot point. And talking about Linda, how unlikeable is she? That feels mean of me to say, even if it is a fictitious person. The interaction between her and Lenina is just classic. The “fallen” civilized woman, once a proper lady, popping soma and ever guy she pleases, is now a drunkard with rags for clothes and a big belly. Of the two choices, I’m saying that we get out of here and head on back to the land of helicopters and feelies please.
Chapter 8 (The story of John. A.K.A., don’t throw stones unless you plan to throw them at John.)
As Linda and Lydia are inside getting acquainted, Bernard and John are outside, walking among the trash, talking about John’s upbringing. Seems like there was a lot of him sitting outside of his mother’s room as she “entertained” men from the village. Here’s my thing, if these men are coming to Linda for some extracurricular activity, then how much can be assume that these “savages” are monogamous. It seems like she was having every man in the village but the women come and beat her down. Apparently this is because they don’t follow the whole “everyone belongs to everyone else” philosophy. Well, from what I see, the men don’t mind the idea of living the same way as those on the outside. It’s just the women who are the trouble makers. This is another instance where I think Aldous Huxley tips his hand that he is heavily influenced by a male dominant society. Not saying that we are extremely progressive in the 21st century, but I think an author today would take a second thought about letting all of these guys have a pass on cheating on their woman. At least one of them would have to lose Mr. Happy to a pissed off girlfriend in order to appease the masses.
There seems to be a lot of focus on reinforcing people’s lot in life. John tells many stories of being an outsider in his own village because he is different. A lot of stones being thrown at him and chiding songs being sung. The same way Linda describes all the ways she was different from the women of the village, with the sex and the inability to weave a sarape. The importance of Shakespeare being introduced to John is lost on me. I assume since Shakespeare was excellent at creating emotion through words that this was a powerful tool to give John. However, I did note the nod towards TV in this chapter which again intrigues me on a historical basis. Linda tells the boy about “…the boxes where you could see and hear what was happening around the world…” Let’s take a second to appreciate the fact that the first “TV broadcast” did not occur until 1928. This book was written in 1931 and released in 1932. Heck, T.V. programming did not start until the late 1930s, well after this book was published. The concept of broadcasting media to televisions was promoted at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
It seems that Huxley predicted a ton of stuff that came true in the future. Granted, there is a fair amount of stuff that didn’t pan out, but it’s still pretty impressive that he was able to see the usefulness of new technology and its effect on the world. I wish this guy had written a Nostradamus kind of book predicting the future. I’m guessing he would have finished above the curve.
Chapter 9 (Bernard becomes a mastermind and John gets really creepy)
Chapter nine is pretty abrupt. Bernard goes to make good on his promise and gets everything set up to bring John and Linda back to London, obviously in an attempt to embarrass the Director, save his job and have a comrade in outsidedness. John has a big moment where he breaks into the house Bernard and Lenina are staying at and convinces himself NOT to rape Lenina. What the f bomb? That scene was really creepy and any attempt for John to be likeable and a sympathetic character was shot. Still not sure if it was intentional or not. But hey, high five John for only committing a little breaking and entering?
So there we have it everyone. Another eventful Bookworm Tuesday. What do you think? What am I missing, what do you agree with, what should I look at again? Remember, I am just a meager traveler on my way back to Geekdom. All help and guidance is appreciated, so please, leave comments below, and if you haven’t, subscribe to this blog on the right.
Next week, we review chapters 10 – 13. With eight chapters left we will knock out four per week.
So, until then, go out, have some fun, enjoy some reading and don’t forget to check out the other topics on this blog, such as Monday Cinema Club, Anything Can Happen Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, and our weekly wrap up at Friday’s Week in Review.