Describe Bernard's relationship with Lenina in Brave New World.

Bernard relationship with Lenina in Brave New World is based on mutual self interest. Bernard is unusually short for an alpha, so his pairing with the very sexually desirable Lenina enhances his status with other alpha men. Lenina, in return, gets a rare and desirable trip to the Savage reservation because of dating Bernard. Ultimately, the highly intelligent Bernard, who appreciates solitude, is too odd for Lenina, while she is too conventional for him.

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The culture in Huxley's Brave New World demands that no one participates in monogamous relationships. Everyone is supposed to date and sleep around, but at the beginning of the book, Lenina has been repeatedly dating a man named Henry. After feeling a little peer pressure from a coworker, and in an effort to preserve her reputation as the polyamorous society demands, Lenina decides to accept Bernard's offer to go on a trip from London to New Mexico.

Lenina decides to go into the men's locker room to find Bernard and talk with him about their plans. The men, she notices, look at her and know her because she has dated most of them. She is counting on them to be talking about her later, because she is popular. So when she goes up to Bernard and tells him in front of everyone that she is excited to go on their big trip together in July, she accomplishes her task to let everyone know that she is not falling into monogamy with Henry.

Bernard, on the other hand, is embarrassed at Lenina's public display. He offers that they should talk somewhere more private about the details, and she vocally laughs and declares that she is not embarrassed to be discussing a date in this public manner. Where Lenina seems to show that she has no shame, Bernard, however, swims in it. After he and Lenina talk a little bit about the New Mexico date, she jumps in a helicopter and leaves with Henry. This is typical and socially correct behavior in this culture; however, Bernard is frustrated with her behavior, as described in the following:

Lenina was making him suffer. He remembered those weeks of timid indecision, during which he had looked and longed and despaired of ever having the courage to ask her... Well, now she had said it [yes] and he was still wretched. . that she should have found him funny for not wanting to talk of their most private affairs in public. Wretched, in a word, because she had behaved as any healthy and virtuous English girl ought to behave and not in some other, abnormal, extraordinary way. (63–64)

There are a couple of things going on in this passage above. First, Bernard seems paranoid or takes Lenina's behavior too personally. Then, Lenina acts from her own agenda and does not care for Bernard's feelings in the matter. Interestingly enough, Bernard doesn't care about Lenina's feelings, either—just his own and how he feels. Needless to say, The New Mexico trip does not go well, because these two are not about creating a good time for one another but for themselves. Bernard also winds up thinking of his career more than Lenina on the trip, and because of the extreme conditions she experiences, she takes enough soma to sleep for a few days in order to recover. Overall, Lenina and Bernard do not have a connected, but a self-serving relationship.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 20, 2020
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Bernard and Lenina are a somewhat odd pairing, though it is completely typical for an alpha, who are all men in the novel, to be dating a beta woman.

Bernard, however, is slightly unusual, leading to gossip that something went wrong with his test-tube. Alphas, at the top of the social hierarchy, are usually the tallest caste, with the heights descending by caste. Epsilons, the lowest caste, are usually quite small. Bernard, however, is short for an alpha, which makes him stand out in an undesirable way and gives him an inferiority complex.

Bernard, as an alpha-plus, is also a bit too much of free thinker for his society in some ways, though perfectly conditioned in others. For example, he likes the idea of solitude, which is a sign of deviance in the world state where everyone belongs to everyone else.

Lenina is very attractive and desirable and an almost perfectly socialized beta. Her only slight sign of deviance is wanting to stay too long in one relationship—not an unusual deviance, we are told, but one she is trying to cure by dating Bernard.

Lenina and Bernard like each other well enough, but each is using the other. Lenina is a good catch for Bernard, the kind of woman who will enhance his status with other men for the time their dating relationship lasts. Bernard, in turns, gives Lenina the chance for a coveted and rare trip to the Savage reservation.

Bernard is ultimately a little too "out there" for Lenina (he will be exiled at the end of the novel), and Lenina is ultimately a little too boring for Bernard, but they get along reasonably well while together, though not without conflict.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 20, 2020
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Since both Bernard and Lenina are somewhat unorthodox in their behaviors for their castes, they are attracted to each other.  For instance, in her conversation with her friend Fanny, Lenina tells her,

"somehow...I hadn't been feeling very keen on promiscuity lately."

But, her friend scolds her, saying that it is not good to be so: "But one's got to make the effort.  Unlike others, Lenina does not wish to go with many men, and she suffers from some emotional feelings.  Likewise, when Bernard wants a meaningful relationship; so, when he overhears Henry Foster speak of Lenina's pneumatic qualities to the Assistant Predestinator, who says he will have to have her at his first opportunity, he turns pale with emotion.

With these emotional urgings, Bernard and Lenina get together; however, Bernard is disappointed that Lenina does not wish to enjoy the beauty of nature and solitude with him on their first evening together.  Instead, she views the night as perfect for Obstacle Golf, a consumer game. And, when Lenina behaves in this way typical of those in the New World, Bernard becomes melancholy, for in Lenina he seeks someone who is also different since he, short and emotional, is not typical for his caste.

On the next date, Bernard childishly wishes to express his individuality by being "Myself and nasty.  Not somebody else, however jolly" when Lenina offers him a glass with soma, reciting " A gramme in time saves nine." So, while he has hoped in stopping to look at the moon that they would be "more together...with nothing but the sea and moon," Lenina is horrified by nature, instead reciting verses of hypnopoedic nonsense  while Bernard bemoans his enslavement by his conditioning.

Disappointed in Lenina's responses to his acts of individualism, Bernard, nevertheless, invites her to travel to the New Mexican Reservation.  But, bewildered by all that she confronts, Lenina retreats into a soma dream; in fact, even Bernard takes soma when he learns that he has been ordered to Iceland.  Once they return to the New World with John the Savage, Bernard becomes a hypocrite, participating in all that he formerly criticized.  He uses John to advance his position with the Director and others while Lenina is more perplexed by his behavior and begins to focus on John, someone new and different, since Bernard, whom she has found somewhat intriguing, has  been more a diversion for her from Henry Foster than anything else.  Clearly, Lenina is bound by her conditioning while Bernard lacks the courage to be truly authentic.

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