Chapter 18 - How does society trick the Savage in Brave New World?Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 17 of "Brave New World," the Savage defiantly tells Mustapha Mond,

'But I don't want comfort.  I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness.  I want sin.'

However, in Chapter 18, John the Savage has been forced to "eat civilization" as he tells Helmholtz.  In this chapter, then, John comes into direct conflict with the New World which has forced itself upon him:  He has been taken to the "feelies," he has been forced to watch his beloved mother die from overdoses of soma, he has been subjected to the sexual advances of Lenina.  He is foiled in his attempt to reject this New World as he has been tricked from within and from without.

Outside his power is any return to the Reservation; John is trapped in this New World.  Mustapha Mond has made clear the power of the World State to resist an unstabilizing force; John is sent away in this chapter.  But, John is also tricked from within as his own destructive tendencies toward violence and self-loathing conquer him.  His death is the result of his lack of understanding of things as well as the inhuman forces of the brave new world.

Only after John arrives at the lighthouse does he realize that this location is still too much a part of what he has tried to separate himself from.  In an effort to change his environment, he plants a garden, but when he realizes that he has forgotten about his mother, his destructive tendency of self-loathing returns and he punishes himself.  Later on, he has lustful images of Linda, so he again punishes himself.

When Darwin Bonaparte, a reporter, surreptitiously photographs him and returns with his report, crowds come to view him.  Soma and sex chewing gum are thrown down to him, and in his confusion and weakness, John's penitence is conquered by human desire after the young woman steps from a helicopter  The next day, John wakes as a victim of the New World in which Mustapha Mond has orchestrated several ploys to conquer John.  After John's desperate act of suicide as the only escape, Mond has an example to prove that his control is better.  Through the exploitation of John the Savage, an individual has been destroyed.  And, not only one individual, but all individuals as anyone who disagrees with Mond's world [monde=world in French] is exiled (Bernard, Helmholtz) or destroyed.  Identity can only come from the community:  "Community, Identity, Stabiltiy"--the shield hanging over the Hatchery confirms this idea.

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