How is John intellectually and emotionally different from the people in Huxley's Brave New Wolrld?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John represents a type of human opposite from the people conditioned into conformity and superficiality in the World State. He has grown up on the ironically named "Savage Reservation" and is referred to as a "Savage," but he is, in fact, arguably more civilized than the citizens of this brave new world. He has read Shakespeare and the Bible, and he has been involved in religious rituals that involve suffering and sacrifice. He has internalized traditional morals, so he is shocked and horrified by the casual sex that is normal in the World State. While the people in this new world have been taught never to engage in more than superficial relationships, John believes in loving deeply. He loves his mother and would like to give his love solely to one woman. What he most values—the thoughtful, contemplative life of literature and religion, the life of loyalty to one woman, a life of deep emotions and the embrace of sacrifice and suffering—are anathema in the World State.

In the World State, citizens are conditioned from birth to live through consumption, never feel too deeply, and take soma the moment they have a troubling thought. In conversation with John about God, Mustafa Mond says that God as an "absence" is a necessary trade-off to keep people happy and secure. He says:

God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That’s why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe.

Mond goes on to say:

We prefer to do things comfortably.

John responds, and the following dialogue occurs:

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”

“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”

John is so incompatible with this society that he chooses suicide over life in it.

tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John the Savage is different intellectually because he has had a different education than those in the New World. He has read the Bible and Shakespeare, both of which are books that are considered old and out of date according to Mustafa Mond, the Controller. The ideas he acquired from his readings discuss human feelings, emotions, and ideas that have been long since rejected. John is a replica of an old age never to be remembered by the full populace since such books are kept from them by the Controllers. Emotionally, John is different because he has suffered physical and emotional pain in his life whereas the people of the New World have only known happiness and self-indulgence. Everything is openly given to the people of this world, whereas John had to fight for everything he needed in life, whether that was love from his mother, acceptance in the reservation, or basic survival needs like food. The people of the New World know nothing of pain and suffering and that plays a big part in John not being able to connect or join them.

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Brave New World

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