Rephrase Lenina's saying "Was and will make me ill. I take a gramme and only am."Ahh, help. I've read this over and still do not understand. All I ask for is a hint. Thank you. Brave New...

Rephrase Lenina's saying "Was and will make me ill. I take a gramme and only am."

Ahh, help. I've read this over and still do not understand. All I ask for is a hint. Thank you.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This line is from Chapter Six of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.  In Part 3 of this chapter, against her misgivings about Bernard, Lenina has decided to go with him to the Reservation. But, when she realizes that she cannot understand what the Warden is saying, she swallows half a gramme of soma so that she can sit,

serenely not listening, thinking of nothing at all, but with her large blue eyes fixed on the Warden's face in an expression of rapt attention.

While Lenina sits there in a soma daze, Bernard remembers that he has left the scent machine on in his bathroom.  Anxiety sets in as he mentally counts how much this forgetful act will cost him.  So, when they have a chance, Bernard grabs Lenina and rushes to call Helmholtz.  When he complains that they could already be with the savages, Lenina offers,  "Have a gramme."

He refused, preferring his anger.  And at last, thank Ford, he was through and, yes, it was Helmholtz...

Then, Helmholtz on the other line informs Bernard that the D.H.C. has mentioned Iceland for Bernard as a punishment.  Pale and dejected, Bernard turns to Lenina, who asks him what is the matter.  Bernard tells her he is going to be sent to Iceland.  He is "appalled" as he ponders that the threats of the Director have been made serious.  As Bernard rages against himself,  calling himself a fool, and saying it was unfair of the Director not to give him another chance "And Iceland, Iceland...."

Sensing Bernard's consternation and anger, Lenina becomes upset.  She recites her conditioning:  

"Was and will make me ill....I take a gramme and only am."

Lenina has been taught to take soma any time that she becomes upset as she has done when listening to the Warden. Bernard's anger frightens Lenina because this is against her well-conditioned view of life with soma and happiness.  Her recitation of the phrase is testimony to her conditioning and her being made to not want more than she can do or handle.  When she recites, "Was and will......and only am," Lenina is saying that things are confusing her; she does not want to think about them, and the consequencs may not turn out as she has planned. Rather than worry and be made ill, she is going to take soma and just "be"--just exist.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What you need to be thinking about here is what the whole society is trying to get this people to be like.  In this society, people are not supposed to do a whole lot of thinking, right?  They are just supposed to do a lot of stuff (sports, feelies, sex) that will feel good and will use their bodies but not their minds.

So connect this with Lenina's saying.  The "was" and "will" parts have to do with thinking, don't they?  If you think about what was and what will be, you are thinking and perhaps worrying.  Instead of doing this, Lenina wants to take some soma and stop thinking -- she will just "be."

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Brave New World

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