What is a "victim-friend" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?

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A victim-friend is someone who can be used and treated as a friend whenever it is convenient but can be also considered an enemy whenever they stop benefiting the person who they think is their friend. In the novel, Bernard is portrayed as a completely selfish, arrogant man, who treats...

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A victim-friend is someone who can be used and treated as a friend whenever it is convenient but can be also considered an enemy whenever they stop benefiting the person who they think is their friend. In the novel, Bernard is portrayed as a completely selfish, arrogant man, who treats John the Savage and Helmholtz like victim-friends. John the Savage is considered a victim-friend after he embarrasses Bernard by not attending his party, which prompts Bernard to lash out at him. Bernard initially treated John the Savage like a friend whenever he could benefit from his presence. Being around John made Bernard popular and intriguing. After John turns his back on Bernard by embarrassing him and criticizing his sudden change in personality, Bernard begins to view John as his enemy and thinks of various ways to make John suffer. Bernard's ability to make John suffer, even though he is one of his only friends, is why John is labeled a victim-friend. Helmholtz is another victim-friend, who Bernard confides in for solace but also fantasizes about getting revenge on. Bernard thinks to himself, "it would be a pleasure to take some revenge on Helmholtz for his generosity" (Huxley, 120).

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Aldous Huxley introduces the idea of the "victim-friend" in Chapter XII, as Bernard muses on the role of John, who "as a victim, the Savage possessed, for Bernard, this enormous superiority;" mostly because John is available for him to pick on (182). 

To Bernard, the victim-friend is someone that he can unapologetically use.  He values John as a friend for his allure as a 'savage,' someone he can use for entertainment at dinner parties to impress the Arch-Community-Songster with.  Bernard wants someone that in a friendship type role that he can be a little mean or petty to, without having to suffer the consequences of that particular behavior if he acted that way with someone important or meaningful. 

"One of the principal functions of a friend is to suffer the punishments that we should like, but are unable, to inflict upon our enemies" (182).

Bernard's view of the 'victim-friend' reveals his petty nature and selfish, mean-spirited attitude.

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