Last Updated on March 31, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278
John hurries over to the Park Lane Hospital, where Linda is lying in her hospital bed on the verge of death. One of the nurses who helps John is horrified by his use of the word mother but takes him to Linda’s room all the same, offhandedly commenting that she can’t stay, because she has a group of children coming for a tour soon. He cries over Linda for a few minutes before his grief is interrupted by a steady stream of children who have come for to be inoculated against the fear of death. Linda’s appearance frightens them, however, and when one of them calls Linda fat, John is offended.
Briefly, Linda talks in her sleep, murmuring about Popé. This infuriates John, who subsequently lashes out at the children, offended by the fact that they’re eating eclairs while they watch Linda die. One of them asks, “Is she dead?” John pushes him to the ground without a second thought.
When the nurse gives the children a guided tour of the hospital, she unwittingly parallels the tour that the Director gave the students in chapters 1, 2, and 3. Huxley uses their tour to deliver information to the reader that would be too clunky or distracting from the narrative if relayed in exposition.
Eclairs. These chocolate pastries symbolize the privilege that these children enjoy and their consequent indifference to death and to John’s suffering. In our world, it’s customary to treat the dead and the dying with respect, but the nurse subverts this by offering the children eclairs, no doubt to create an artificial association between death and pastries—that is, something pleasant.