Describe John and Lenina’s relationship. How does that relationship compare to his relationship with his mother?
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John feels emotions deeply, as he has been influenced to do so both by his "savage" culture and his immersion in Shakespeare. He loves both his mother and Lenina in a conflicted, suffering way. Lenina he idealizes and turns into an object of desire, but given the sexual mores he has grown up with, exemplied by the savage women beating his mother for being a whore, he is repulsed by Lenina's overt sexual advances. To him, these advances, such an unzippering her suit, seem impure. Their encounters are comic in their display of cultural misunderstanding and yet undergirded with the pathos of John's suffering.
John loves his mother and the relationship is more complex because he knows her so well. They actually have a relationship based on reality, not illusion, at least on John's part. Linda has been an inadequate mother but has actually tried with him, and not done a bad job given her complete lack of any coping mechanisms or role models growing up. She has been taught motherhood is repulsive, but does bond with her son to some extent. However, once she returns to her civilization, she retreats into soma. John grieves his mother's death deeply.
In a way, Lenina is the perfect love object for him, because she is so like his mother, but he does not have the same depth of relationship with her as with Linda, even given the inadequacy of his relationship with Linda. He and Lenina simply cannot understand each other, and Lenina is incapable of meeting his emotional needs. With both women he experiences a depth of both suffering and joy they are incapable of, because they have been conditioned to live superficially while he has been conditioned to feel deeply.
John was infatuated with Lenina, and at one point he confessed his love for her. Lenina felt the same way about John (as seen when she is very happy with him), and she even made sexual overtures to John after he confessed his feelings. However, because of their different backgrounds, they were unable to proceed with their feelings because John wanted marriage as this is how he had been conditioned. On the other hand, Lenina had been conditioned against marriage, and the “civilized” world supported promiscuity. This made it difficult for the two to establish a relationship. Lenina ended up rejecting John’s marriage proposal.
The relationship between John and Lenina and the one between John and his mother are very different. Lenina wanted a relationship with John, but the mother (Linda) did not want to work on the relationship with her son. Linda was more infatuated with the drug Soma than she was with her son until her death.
Ironically, John cares for both Lenina and his mother, Linda, but neither one of them seems to care much for John. Lenina is sexually attracted to John, but her conditioning has made her afraid of emotional commitment. So, she begins to be afraid of John because he is so attracted to her. Linda was so embarrassed at actually giving birth to a child, that she never really accepts motherhood. She tries to teach John that the values of the Brave New World are better than those at the reservation. However, she can never really explain why those values are better. Once off the reservation, she drowns herself in soma rather than helping her son adjust to the new society. Thus, John is left alone---rejected by the two women he cares for and eventually commits suicide.
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