What is the purpose of the Solidarity Service, and why does Bernard feel more alone afterwards?

In Brave New World, the Solidarity Service is an orgy in religious guise meant to bind people together as one. Bernard feels more alone afterward because he has become more acutely aware that he is different from other people in his society.

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The Solidarity Service is an orgy. Its purpose is sexual release. The sexual release occurs in a context that binds people more tightly to the society as a whole rather than in an exclusive sexual relationship with one person. The orgy helps express a core ideal in the World State that "every one belongs to every one else."

The Solidarity Service is a parody of the Christian eucharist or communion service. In that service, people experience a oneness with Christ as they symbolically drink his blood and eat his body. As befits the emphasis on free sexuality in the World State, the "communion" has been changed to a group orgy. Because of censorship laws at the time, Huxley couldn't say explicitly that the group was having sex, but the intent is made clear in lines such as:

Boys at One with girls at peace;

Orgy-porgy gives release.

Influenced by drugs, suggestion, and throbbing music, most of the group has an ecstatic experience of the "Greater Being" in tandem with sex, offering them a pseudo-religious experience. Huxley parodies the Holy Spirit in a racist way when we writes:

in the red twilight it was as though some enormous negro dove were hovering benevolently over the now prone or supine dancers.

Bernard feels more alone than ever after the service because it makes him more acutely aware of how different he is from other people in his society. It has the opposite of the expected effect on him, and it leaves him "unreplenished," most likely because he realizes how shallow and superficial it is. He is uncomfortable because he has been conditioned all his life to want to be like everyone, but he is not like the others. He is more "hopelessly himself":

He had emerged from that crimson twilight into the common electric glare with a self-consciousness intensified to the pitch of agony.

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Aldous Huxley's Solidarity Service in Chapter Five is a parody of the "feel-good" emotive services that some churches hold to promote religious "experiences": 

  • During this service, the congregation of higher-caste New Worlders sing hymns that emphasize that they are part of a greater whole in a parody of Christian hymns have as their theme the universality of men. 
  • The solidarity participants have a "communion," but they take the drug soma instead.
  • They perform a dance while beating on the buttocks of the people before them parodying the actions of the congregation of the "feel-good" churches in which people beat tambourines and dance and jump.
  • The frenzy becomes so great that the soma-drugged people channel their actions into the "orgy-porgy."  This parodies the people who "feel the spirit of the Lord" and fall down writhing on the floor. 

There is such a falseness to these soma-generated mock-religious activities, that once people come down from this drugged-induced communion of carnal pleasure, like Don Juan coming down from his moments of ecstacy, they feel isolated and alone again, if they are thinking people [and they are higher-caste].  So, the quest for satisfaction of the spirit goes on as it does, for example, with one who has the Don Juan complex, one who searches constantly for an end to one's emptiness through sexual acts. but is left alone and bereft afterwards.  But, only Bernard understands the twisted and absurd values of such activities; the others merely return to the ironically named Solidarity Service:

He was as miserably isolated now as he had been when the service began--more isolated by reason of his unreplenished emptiness, his dead satiety.  Separate and unatoned, while the others were being fused into the Greater Being; alone even in Morgan's embrace--much more alone, indeed, more hopelessly himself than he had ever been in his life before.

Bernard's is an existential moment; here he is truly human and alienated while the others are mere humanoid duplicates "fused into the Greater Being" of the scientifically generated New World.  Perhaps the imperfections in his birth ("hopelessly himself") have provided him with the atavistic feelings of those Before Ford--his hairiness may be an indication of this "primitiveness," his interest in nature, and his curiosity for the Reservation seem to suggest this.  Certainly, the reader understands the emptiness of the scientifically produced New World that Bernard feels.


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As its name implies, the purpose of the Solidarity Service (that everyone has to attend about once every other week) is to make the people of the society feel solidarity -- to make them feel like they are all connected.  This is important in their society because they have no built in emotional ties the way we have ties to our family.

Bernard feels more alone after they are through because he did not really believe in the stuff that was happening.  He was just sort of play acting so that he would not stick out.  So he has just been to this service to make him feel connected and he feels less connected.  That would really make you feel alone.  It's like if you went to a pep rally at school and you were the only one who hated the school -- you'd feel even more alone afterwards.

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