Compare and contrast the caste system in Brave New World to the class system in our culture. Consider differences in neighborhoods, family incomes, schools, religious affiliations, race,and ethnicity, and discuss whether or not diverse groups in our society get more chances to interact than do the castes in the book?
Huxley creates a caste system in Brave New World so that the society has an appropriate number of people to fill all the roles and the jobs necessary to the survival of this futuristic world. Through a procedure known as the Bokanovsky Process, staff in Hatchery manipulate the fertilization process so that the populations of each caste are closely controlled. Alphas, those who will serve as managers and leaders, result from a single reproductive process: no splitting of the developing embryo occurs, and the baby "decanted" at the end of the process is a unique individual. As Huxley takes the reader through the social hierarchy via a description of the process, the reader learns that the Betas are the result of some splitting and that the level of manipulation increases as the process works toward the bottom of the caste system. Epsilons, the lowest on the ladder, may result from a fertilization process that clones 64 or more individuals from one embryo via the Bokanovsky Process. Such a hierarchy is represented in today's society in that the contemporary hierarchy has few leaders/managers at the top (Alphas) and millions of menial laborers at the bottom (Epsilons). In the middle are Betas (middle managers and team leaders), Deltas (team members, skilled laborers), and Gammas (semi-skilled laborers). Movements such as the "Occupy Wall Street" and organizations such as the "We are the 99%) represent the notion of a modern caste system. Those who support such efforts depict the concerns and goals of the middle levels--the Betas, Deltas and the Gammas--as they work for better conditions for those who are viewed as oppressed (the middle castes plus the Epsilons) by the upper caste (the Alphas).
Just as the Alphas in Brave New World had access to technology and entertainment unavailable to the Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons, so do the "lower" groups lack access to the financial security and entertainment options enjoyed by the top 1% within modern society. The lower classes in today's world must content themselves with the housing, education, and entertainment options available to the general public. They live in smaller houses, apartments, and housing projects, and the children tend to enroll in public schools and universities. Their cars, clothing, and general lifestyles are modest. For entertainment, they go to movies and local sporting events. The upper 1%, the über wealthy, live in mansions, own flashy luxury cars, travel extensively, and frequent artistic events. Their children often attend highly reputed private schools and universities. For example, the Ivy League institutions are heavily populated with "legacies," students who are the children of alumni and alumnae. Interaction between the various castes is somewhat facilitated by modern technology, but a split between the upper and the lower groups does exist. However, unlike what is presented inBrave New World, those who belong to the middle and lower classes do seem to have less division among them and appear to interact more often with one another.