Brave New World Questions and Answers
by Aldous Huxley

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In chapter 13 of Brave New World, what makes John change his mind about Lenina?

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John is faced with multiple problems in having left the "Savage Reservation" and entered the contemporary dystopia with its quite different set of values and accepted behavior patterns. But even without this huge change, he is a naive youth who has experienced nothing of life; he knows nothing about women and about the way men and women interact with each other. The fact that the Society is governed by a different moral code from the primitive world he comes from complicates matters, but it is not the only problem.

John has idealized Lenina. His ideas about love have presumably come from his reading of Shakespeare, but it's interesting that his attitude to Lenina is really an exaggerated form of what has often occurred in all times and places: a young person having unrealistic expectations about love and sexuality. One cannot help thinking that it's not so much in Shakespeare but rather in Victorian literature that we find men dividing women into candidates for a pedestal on the one hand, and "ladies of the night" on the other. John is shocked by Lenina's forwardness and her non-belief (as with everyone in the Society) in marriage, which no longer exists in the modern world. So he angrily rejects her, calling her names from Shakespeare ("impudent strumpet," and so on) and generally going berserk, leaving Lenina to wonder what went wrong.

Even when Huxley wrote the book nearly ninety years ago, sexual morality was becoming liberalized and was discarding the strictures that had been imposed by patriarchal societies. Like other dystopian novels, Brave New World is a projection into the future of things that were already happening in the author's own time. However, people in the Society are actually discouraged from being faithful to one partner, which seems not only a rejection of the previous world's rules, but a bending of them in the opposite direction. John has no concept of any of this, so when compounded with his already unrealistic view of women and relationships, the result is a disaster in Lenina's intended encounter with him.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ever since he has met her, John the Savage has been totally in love with Lenina Crowne.  But his love for her is the sort that puts her "on a pedestal."  He thinks of her as perfect.

Because of his values, he thinks a perfect woman must be a virgin and must not have sexual desires (or at least not show them).  He is very old-fashioned.

Meanwhile, Lenina isn't in love, but she thinks John is really attractive and wants to sleep with him.  In her apartment in this chapter, Lenina takes off her clothes to have sex with John.

When John sees this, he starts to think she is a whore because that's what his values say she is if she acts like that.

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