In Chapter 14 of the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, John goes to the hospital and asks for his mother. At her bed, he finds her dozing in and out of a soma-stupor and begins to cry as he...

In Chapter 14 of the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, John goes to the hospital and asks for his mother. At her bed, he finds her dozing in and out of a soma-stupor and begins to cry as he remembers how she raised him. As he sits there, a group of eight-year-old twins come in for their death training, and John becomes enraged by their actions. What do they do and why does he react the way he does?

Expert Answers
kjtracy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After rushing to get to his mother at Park Lane Hospital, John finds her quickly approaching death. The nurses, stripped of human emotion or any appreciation for the concept of family, are shocked by John's identification of Linda as his mother and they try to remove him from the room. The group of children receiving death training is due for a tour shortly after John arrives. The purpose of the tour is to cure them of the natural fear of death, a ritual that strikes John as bizarre and callous. The children are frightened by Linda, who is not entirely lucid and looks very sickly. One of the children on the tour makes an offhand remark that Linda is fat, which is the event that pushes John over the edge. Meanwhile, the children are casually eating dessert while they watch Linda die without care or concern.

While still asleep, Linda talks about Popé in her sleep and John takes out his anger on the children in the room. He shoves a particularly brazen child to the floor after the youth questions whether Linda is still alive in a bored and callous way. In this scene, the desserts the children are eating are used to symbolize the lives of luxury they lead as well as their apathy. They lack the empathy not only to find their surroundings unappetizing but to respect the private moment between John and his dying mother. This scene is perhaps one of the most profound examples of the decadence and cruelty found in the strange futuristic world as it allows the reader to see how children are conditioned and raised to stamp out their humanity.

Another important element to note within this chapter is the contrast between John and the children on the death tour. As he is watching his mother slip away, John recalls his early life with her and the parenting that made him the man he is. His upbringing was a stark contrast to the cold and calculated way in which the children on tour are being raised by the system of their society.

Read the study guide:
Brave New World

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question