In Chapter 11, why is Helmholtz Watson sad when he listens to Bernard's boastings?(I had six girls last week)  pp 156~157 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his satirizing of Bernard Marx, Huxley shows how quickly people throw away their attempts to be authentic as soon as people start treating them as of "outstanding importance."  When Bernard talks with Helmholtz of his female conquests and growing popularity now that so many are after John, Helmholtz listens to his boasting "in a silence so gloomily disapproving that Bernard was offended":

"You're envious," he said.

Helmholtz shook his head.  "I'm rather sad, that's all," he answered.

Bernard went off in a huff. never, he told himself, never would he speak to Helmholtz again.

The man who was insulted by the Director's lewd talk of Lenina now has many female partners now, himself.  The man who wished to look at nature and enjoy the stars, now exploits the natural man, John.  The man who wished to talk and have a meaningful conversation now engages in sex with multiple, meaningless partners.  Helmholtz finds this behavior of Bernard unauthentic and hypocritical since Bernard does genuinely believe that there are things to criticize.

However, Bernard is no Helmholtz.  He is weak; he secretly has always desired to be accepted and respected, instead of having people whisper behind his back about the alcohol that was accidentally put into his incubating tube.  Bernard is also deluded:

Intoxicated, he was behaving as though, at the very least, he were a visiting World Controller. Lighter than air.

In his delusion, he writes to Mustpha Mond, lecturing about the "Savage."  The idea of Bernard's lecturing to him, gives Mond an idea about which he laughs.  Here, indeed, is foreshadowing of the demise of Bernard.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reason that Helmholtz Watson is sad when he listens to Bernard saying this stuff is that he can see that Bernard is getting "drunk" on his new status.  Bernard is letting his new celebrity change him.

In the old days, Bernard did not really believe in behaving like this.  That is why he was going to get sent to Iceland.  He used to be something of a rebel.  But now he is changing.  He is trying to be a big shot in the society rather than being true to his own character.  This is the start of a real change in Bernard where he goes from being a rebel to wanting to be part of the orthodox society.  That's why he will freak out when he is finally banished while Helmholtz will take it well.

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Brave New World

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