How does Bernard react to his downfall?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 16 we see Bernard breaking down at the thought of his banishment. All of his former daring and rebellious spirit has vanished during the hearing with Mond. He is silent and fraught throughout the discussion until he hears the sentence, when he breaks down. Interestingly his reaction is compared with the reaction of Helmholtz, who is able to accept his sentence with equanimity. He and Mond clearly have a great respect for each other, and Mond even envies the exciting future that Helmholtz will have in his banishment.

However, that is not the end of the story, as in Chapter 18 we see a Bernard who is calm and resigned to his banishment. He and Helmholtz are shown to have a genuine regard for each other, and both realise that in their banishment they will be able to live more fulfilled and more liberated lives than if they had stayed. This leaves us with a slightly better impression of Bernard in the novel, who throughout most of the action has been self-serving in his use of John and hypocritical, criticising the aspects of the culture that he is not able to participate in.