Brave New World Chapter 18 Summary and Analysis
by Aldous Huxley

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Chapter 18 Summary and Analysis

Before John and the others are exiled, they're held for a period of a couple days in a small office or apartment, where they await transportation. John makes himself sick by drinking warm water and mustard (a purification trick he learned in Malpais). He asks Mustapha Mond to send him to the Falklands with Helmholtz, but instead John is sent to live in an abandoned lighthouse deep in the English countryside. There, he begins his ritual of purification, self-flagellation, and austerity in the hopes of cleansing himself of the evils of civilization.

Unfortunately, three men happen to drive by and see him whipping himself. They alert the press, who fly to the lighthouse in helicopters to interview John, whom they remember as "the Savage." He's irritated by this and kicks one of them on the backside. He threatens many of the reporters, but they continue to come, as do tourists wanting to gawk at him. One man by the odd name of Darwin Bonaparte hides inside a fake tree for three days just to film John performing his rituals. Bonaparte is, it turns out, an executive at the Feely Corporation and thinks John's story will make for a fabulous movie: The Savage of Surrey.

In the wake of the film's release, tourists flock to John's lighthouse, curious about the real Savage and encouraging him to whip himself for their amusement. Lenina, accompanied by Henry, visits in the middle of one of these episodes, and the sight of her incites John into a rage. He whips her, and she falls to the ground, injured and bloodied. It's unclear if she dies in the resultant stampede and orgy, but it would appear that she's killed at the end of the novel and that the soma that John somehow ingested, in combination with his passion and fury, led him to partake of whatever sins and pleasures the spectators offered. Horrified, John hangs himself the next morning, and the last scene is of some visitors finding his dead body.

Allusions

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). Presumably, the character Darwin Bonaparte is named after both Charles Darwin and Napoleon Bonaparte, as opposed to one of Napoleon's relatives. Napoleon himself was a French conqueror and is generally considered one of the best generals to have ever lived. His campaign to conquer all of Europe brought him fame and fortune, but was finally halted at the Battle of Waterloo in June of 1815. Following his defeat, Bonaparte was exiled to the island of Elba, not unlike the exiles in this novel.

Charles Darwin (1809–1882). The English naturalist famed for his contributions to the study of evolution. Though Darwin was not the first scientist to pose the theory of evolution, he's perhaps the most famous for it, in large part because of his study of the finch population on the Galápagos Islands, where he was able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that evolution is real. This would lead later scientists to major discoveries about human evolution and our relation to apes. The character Darwin Bonaparte is named in honor of both Darwin and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Similes

Huxley uses a simile when he calls the reporters "turkey buzzards."

Symbols

The Crucifix. Huxley repeats the image of the crucifix first introduced in Chapter 7, during the ceremony that Lenina and Bernard witness in Malpais. There, it was a symbol of sacrifice and repentance, and John uses it here as a tool to enhance his suffering, which he feels necessary so that he might be purified of the sins of civilization.

The Eagle. This chapter adds a curious detail: that the eagle is John's guardian animal. This symbolizes his desire to remain connected with nature and the spiritual world, which is evidenced by his desire to live in such austere conditions.

The Lighthouse.  It's important to note that this lighthouse has been abandoned for a long time. Instead of being a symbol of protection, guidance, and peace for travelers and lost souls, it is a place where people like John who seek protection find only misery and distress. John no doubt decides to live...

(The entire section is 1,115 words.)