What is the Social Predestination Room in Brave New World?
The Director of the Hatcheries gave the students a tour of the institution and explained the activities that took place in the different departments. The centre was basically a human reproduction centre where the different classes of society were reproduced. The male and female gametes were combined for fertilization, and the social classification of the embryos was conducted. The Alphas and Betas were bottled while the Gamma, Deltas and Epsilons were taken through the Bokanovsky process. The Bokanovsky process was necessary for the creation of numerous identical twins from the same egg. These identical twins would be conditioned to perform specific tasks as their different groups demand. In the process, they retard the development of the fertilized egg, which reacted by budding and producing the identical twins.
After the Bokanovsky process, the fertilized eggs, well identified by the Labelers according to their groups and heredity, are passed on to the Social Predestination Room. In the predestination room, the Predestinators would make calculations about the population of the fertilized eggs, and quantities of how they are distributed among their different groups. The Predestinators sent in their requests for embryos to the Fertilizers, who responded by fulfilling the request. After the eggs had been predestined, they were sent to the Embryo Room. The Predestinators provided more information about the population of the embryos delivered.
In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, the government has taken complete control of the processes in which procreation occurs. In line with Huxley's depiction of bureaucracy and science run amok, his "world" has divided the reproductive process into a series of stages, beginning with the Fertilizing Room, and continuing on through the Social Predestination Room. It is here, in this room, where the fertilizing eggs were processed for assignment and distribution. As Huxley's narrator describes the environment within the Social Predestination Room:
“Eighty-eight cubic metres of card-index,” said Mr. Foster with relish, as they entered. “Containing all the relevant information,” added the Director. “Brought up to date every morning.” “And co-ordinated every afternoon.” “On the basis of which they make their calculations.”
Those calculations, of course, involve the eventual destination for the fertilized eggs -- an essential step in the process by which the government bureaucracy determines who is permitted to have a child and when. Huxley has taken the concept of an omniscient autocratic regime to its logical extreme, with population control micromanaged from above.
The Social Predestination Room is one step in the process of human birth in Brave New World. The first step is the Fertilizing Room, then comes the Bottling Room. Next is the Social Predestination Room. This room contains "eighty-eight cubic metres of card index...containing all the relevant information," meaning the genetic coding that will determine the social class in which the new person will be born.
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In Huxley's Brave New World, the Social Predestination Room (SPR) is a laboratorial room wherein embryos are grown, monitored, and conditioned in order to "engineer," as it were, each new person born into the World State. The World State oversees all breeding in order to create individuals who can fill society's various roles, roles which require certain skills and various levels of intelligence, suggestibility, and creativity.
Depending on how their embryos develop, everyone born from the SPR falls into one of the World State's distinct social castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. Alpha and Beta are the highest functioning, most intelligent members of society, so their embryos are allowed to develop in normal/favorable conditions. However, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are significantly less intelligent and less talented than the Alphas/Betas, and this deficiency is achieved by exposing the embryos to alcohol, decreasing oxygen, and electro-shock therapy among other things. All newborns are also exposed to hypnopaedia, which is essentially playing recordings of phrases that will affect how the newborns think when they grow up, while they sleep.
In essence, this room controls what the World State believes to be every important pre-conscious or developmental factor that affects who people become. The SPR is the ultimate application of science to building a society: it removes the "human" elements of child-rearing like warmth, support, and love. It seeks to remove what it believes to be the risk of human error. The SPR functions like an assembly line for humans, using a repetitive, standardized process so as to remove chance and create every component for a "Utopia" (which, as the novel illustrates, is actually a horrible dystopia.)