In Brave New World, how do Helmholtz and John the Savage relate in Chapter 12?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While John the Savage cannot reconcile himself with the modern world around him, Helmholtz is a product of that modern world and still feels disconnected from it. Helmholtz believes himself to be a subversive writer, creating poems that reflect his personal disconnection from the world; he is immediately fascinated by John, since he sees in the Savage something of the self to which he aspires. When they meet, Helmholtz reads some of his personal poetry to John, who responds with selections from Shakespeare (whose works have been almost lost):

Helmholtz listened with a growing excitement. At "sole Arabian tree" he started; at "thou shrieking harbinger" he smiled with sudden pleasure; at "every fowl of tyrant wing" the blood rushed up into his cheeks; but at "defunctive music" he turned pale and trembled with an unprecedented emotion.
(Huxley, Brave New World,

Bernard, who brought John to civilization, is annoyed by the instant rapport between John and Helmholtz. This shows some of the connection between the two creative minds that is missed by Bernard. While Bernard is actively trying to thwart societal expectations, he has little foundations on which to achieve this rebellion; Helmholtz and John find their common ground in poetry, giving them both a concrete place from which to rebel. However, Helmholtz also realizes that societal norms mean that the once-shocking stories of Shakespeare cannot affect the jaded people of the future, and so something more is needed.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial