What is the purpose of the Solidarity Service, and why does Bernard feel more alone afterwards?

Expert Answers

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

Aldous Huxley's Solidarity Service in Chapter Five is a parody of the "feel-good" emotive services that some churches hold to promote religious "experiences": 

  • During this service, the congregation of higher-caste New Worlders sing hymns that emphasize that they are part of a greater whole in a parody of Christian hymns have as their theme the universality of men. 
  • The solidarity participants have a "communion," but they take the drug soma instead.
  • They perform a dance while beating on the buttocks of the people before them parodying the actions of the congregation of the "feel-good" churches in which people beat tambourines and dance and jump.
  • The frenzy becomes so great that the soma-drugged people channel their actions into the "orgy-porgy."  This parodies the people who "feel the spirit of the Lord" and fall down writhing on the floor. 

There is such a falseness to these soma-generated mock-religious activities, that once people come down from this drugged-induced communion of carnal pleasure, like Don Juan coming down from his moments of ecstacy, they feel isolated and alone again, if they are thinking people [and they are higher-caste].  So, the quest for satisfaction of the spirit goes on as it does, for example, with one who has the Don Juan complex, one who searches constantly for an end to one's emptiness through sexual acts. but is left alone and bereft afterwards.  But, only Bernard understands the twisted and absurd values of such activities; the others merely return to the ironically named Solidarity Service:

He was as miserably isolated now as he had been when the service began--more isolated by reason of his unreplenished emptiness, his dead satiety.  Separate and unatoned, while the others were being fused into the Greater Being; alone even in Morgan's embrace--much more alone, indeed, more hopelessly himself than he had ever been in his life before.

Bernard's is an existential moment; here he is truly human and alienated while the others are mere humanoid duplicates "fused into the Greater Being" of the scientifically generated New World.  Perhaps the imperfections in his birth ("hopelessly himself") have provided him with the atavistic feelings of those Before Ford--his hairiness may be an indication of this "primitiveness," his interest in nature, and his curiosity for the Reservation seem to suggest this.  Certainly, the reader understands the emptiness of the scientifically produced New World that Bernard feels.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As its name implies, the purpose of the Solidarity Service (that everyone has to attend about once every other week) is to make the people of the society feel solidarity -- to make them feel like they are all connected.  This is important in their society because they have no built in emotional ties the way we have ties to our family.

Bernard feels more alone after they are through because he did not really believe in the stuff that was happening.  He was just sort of play acting so that he would not stick out.  So he has just been to this service to make him feel connected and he feels less connected.  That would really make you feel alone.  It's like if you went to a pep rally at school and you were the only one who hated the school -- you'd feel even more alone afterwards.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial