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Although they were raised very differently, Bernard Marx and John the Savage are both...

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abroader | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 19, 2009 at 7:35 PM via web

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Although they were raised very differently, Bernard Marx and John the Savage are both dissatisfied with the society of the brave new world. What qualities do the characters have in common? How are they different? Compare their strengths and weaknesses.

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emeraldjde | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 29, 2009 at 2:03 AM (Answer #1)

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For similarities, you can start with the obvious fact that the two of them are free thinkers; they believe that there is something bigger than what is being offered to them in the brave new world.

Neither agrees with the ways of casual sex in the society: Bernard expresses this in the very beginning of the novel when listening to Foster's conversation about Lenina in the men's locker room, and John continually expresses this throughout his tenure in the brave new world, particularly when Lenina throws herself at him and he refuses her.

Both of them seek intellectual stimulation through conversations with Helmholtz.  John has the luxury of having Shakespeare's Complete Works to consult and mull over as well.

For differences: While both John and Bernard are certainly outcasts in their respective societies, contributing to their dissatisfaction, for John, I think it goes a step further because he doesn't fit into the new world, either, whereas Bernard has no aspirations to fit into the savage reservation.

John does not seek acceptance the way that Bernard does and, in fact, looks to isolate himself from this world towards the end of the novel.  In contrast, Bernard does not want to be isolated from this society, despite the seemingly accurate point the Controller makes that Bernard will appreciate being among people like himself moreso than staying there.

I believe that John's attachments are not selfishly motivated.  For example, while Linda is dying, he's by her side and he's connected to her because of his love for her and his sorrow for what the new world has done to her.  Bernard's attachments stem from his own needs, for example, his association with Helmholtz.  When he's an outcast, he and Helmholtz are fast friends.  As soon as society acknowledges him for bringing John back, he drops Helmholtz like a bad habit and seeks acceptance from the masses. When John refuses to come to the party (because, unlike Bernard, he could care less about the opinions of these people towards him and he's tired of being a freakshow exhibition), Bernard is devastated.  He then goes crawling back to Helmholtz, who has actually become close to John but takes him in without apology.

There are many more things to consider about these two men.  The stories they each tell are riveting, and Huxley uses them for some powerful social commentary.  Refer to the eNotes summaries and analyses given for more.  They'll prove quite helpful.

Good luck with it!

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