Chapter 15 Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on March 31, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 432

The Deputy Sub-Bursar arrives at the hospital with a black cash box full of the day’s soma rations and asks all of the children to line up neatly for the distribution. John, realizing that this drug killed his mother, decides to free the children by getting rid of the soma....

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The Deputy Sub-Bursar arrives at the hospital with a black cash box full of the day’s soma rations and asks all of the children to line up neatly for the distribution. John, realizing that this drug killed his mother, decides to free the children by getting rid of the soma. While John has his fit, the Deputy calls Hemholtz, whom he knows to be a friend of John’s. Helmholtz and Bernard rush to the hospital, where John begins throwing the soma out the window. Helmholtz joins him, but Bernard doesn’t, and the children and hospital staff look on, thinking them all mad.

Motifs

Insects. In chapter 4, Huxley compared a group of lower-caste workers to “aphides and ants,” suggesting that they’re small and easily crushed. Here, we find that insects have become a motif in the novel and that groups of people are repeatedly compared to mindless creatures in order to emphasize a lack of individuality and identity.

Symbols

Soma. This drug means different things to different characters. Linda and Lenina use it as an escape, the children respond to it almost like it’s candy, and John sees it as a corrupting force, something that must be destroyed. He proceeds to do so by throwing the soma rations out the window (which, it should be noted, does not actually destroy the pills, but merely displaces them).

The Voice. Once again, Huxley positions “the Voice” as a godlike figure, with its commanding yet soothing message playing all around them, as if to hypnotize them. The Voice thus becomes a symbol of the conditioning that the children have gone through and of their subservience to the desires of the Voice (and, thus, the World Controllers).

Themes

Freedom. This theme is closely associated with the theme of drugs. John justifies his decision to get rid of the soma by asking, “Don’t you want to be free?” He’s implying that their addiction to soma has enslaved them, reducing them to “mewling and puking” babies dependent on drugs for all their emotional needs. His attempt to free the children, however, fails.

Friendship. Friendship has been a major theme in the novel. We’ve seen the ups and downs of the friendships between Bernard, Helmholtz, and John, and we’ve seen how the essential differences in character and thought have kept them from truly understanding each other. When Bernard betrays both his friends and tries to distance himself from their actions, we see the limits of friendship. In the end, Bernard is more interested in self-preservation than in being close to people.

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