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In Brave New World, how do Helmholtz and John the Savage relate to each other in...

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zofic13 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted November 28, 2012 at 8:09 PM via iOS

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In Brave New World, how do Helmholtz and John the Savage relate to each other in Chapter 12?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:11 PM (Answer #1)

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While John the Savage cannot reconcile himself with the modern world around him, Helmholtz is a product of that modern world and still feels disconnected from it. Helmholtz believes himself to be a subversive writer, creating poems that reflect his personal disconnection from the world; he is immediately fascinated by John, since he sees in the Savage something of the self to which he aspires. When they meet, Helmholtz reads some of his personal poetry to John, who responds with selections from Shakespeare (whose works have been almost lost):

Helmholtz listened with a growing excitement. At "sole Arabian tree" he started; at "thou shrieking harbinger" he smiled with sudden pleasure; at "every fowl of tyrant wing" the blood rushed up into his cheeks; but at "defunctive music" he turned pale and trembled with an unprecedented emotion.
(Huxley, Brave New World, huxley.net)

Bernard, who brought John to civilization, is annoyed by the instant rapport between John and Helmholtz. This shows some of the connection between the two creative minds that is missed by Bernard. While Bernard is actively trying to thwart societal expectations, he has little foundations on which to achieve this rebellion; Helmholtz and John find their common ground in poetry, giving them both a concrete place from which to rebel. However, Helmholtz also realizes that societal norms mean that the once-shocking stories of Shakespeare cannot affect the jaded people of the future, and so something more is needed.

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