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The notion of consumerism is a theme in Huxley's Brave New World. Can you comment and...

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steeles | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM via web

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The notion of consumerism is a theme in Huxley's Brave New World. Can you comment and indicate sections of the book to explore?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 9, 2010 at 2:24 PM (Answer #1)

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In the dysutopia of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, mindless consummerism is encouraged in order to keep people together since solitude breeds instability as individuals on their own may entertain ideas that are contrary to those of the New World. Sports such as Obstacle Golf and Centrifugal Bumblepuppy require complex machinery whose manufacture helps keep the economy running while they also occupy the time of many people together, thus preventing dissention and dangerous individual thought.  The residents of the New World are kept young, too, so that they can continue their consumption throughout their entire lives. 

In addition to the chapters already mentioned, Chapter IV in which Bernard Max and Lenina await the helipcopters which will take them to the golf site is of interest: Bernard draws a deep breath outside, looks up at the sky and "round the blue horizon," remarking with a trembling voice, Isn't it beautiful!" But, Lenina, conditioned better in consumerism, smiles--as Huxley satirically writes--

with an expression of the most sympathetic understanding.  "Simply perfect for Obstacle Golf," she answered rapturously.

To further his satire on consumerism, Huxley's refers to the inventions of the New World as "insects," "wasp," "hornet," bumble bee" etc.  The tower that rises above the helicopter is a "slender fungus."  The green of the golf course "was maggoty with fore-shorted life."

 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 9, 2010 at 12:29 PM (Answer #2)

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Consumerism is very important to the World State in this book.  There are two reasons for this, in my opinion.

First, the state needs the people to consume as much as they possibly can so that there will be plenty of jobs for everyone.  This will keep everyone busy and happy.

Second, the state needs people to have something to do at all times.  The state does not want people to have time to sit around and think.  They want people to be too busy to contemplate life because that might lead them to want real relationships or things like that.  In that sense, consumption is sort of like soma or sex -- it has the same function.

The first place I would look is at the Director's discussion of consumption and sports and transport in Chapter 2.  There is also some discussion of it in the part of Chapter 3 that has all the quick cuts and brief paragraphs.

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