Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 4 Summary
In the lift (elevator), Lenina runs into Bernard and several other men, including Benito Hoover, a man she used to date. To Benito's great astonishment, Lenina asks Bernard if his offer to take her on vacation still stands. Bernard, flustered and self-conscious, asks if they can speak about this in private, but implicitly agrees when she tells him to call him. Lenina then goes to meet Henry, who picks her up in his helicopter and takes her to Stoke Poges Club House to play Obstacle Golf. On the way they see groups of Gammas boarding a tram. Lenina's last words in this chapter are, "I'm glad I'm not a Gamma" (a prejudice drilled into her by sleep teaching).
Bernard goes home, feeling distressed and insecure after his encounter with Lenina. He's rude to his Delta-minus servants, whose presence reminds him that he's physically inferior to most of the other Alphas. He's short, thin, often antisocial, and sometimes ill-tempered, and often rejected by women he asks out because of it. Irritated, he takes a helicopter out and goes to see his good friend Helmholtz, a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering, where he writes feelies and some musical scores.
Helmholtz, like Bernard, feels like an outsider—though for different reasons. Bernard's physique has made it difficult for him to relate to members of his own caste, whereas Helmholtz's abilities as a writer and artist have separated him from his colleagues and fellow artists, who feel that he's "a little too able," meaning too talented, given that their talent is strictly engineered. Because he's talented and because he feels that being a great lover, a champion Elevator Squash player, and an all-around success means nothing, he has become melancholy. He wants to make great art, but there is no great material in this tightly controlled world. He has nothing new to write about. Still, he's unable to completely commiserate with Bernard, whom he finds a little pathetic. Part 2 ends with Helmholtz wishing Bernard would "show a little more pride."
Chapter 4 Analysis
Huxley uses a simile when he compares a group of Gamma girls to "aphides and ants" crowding around the monorail cars, attempting to board it. This simile diminishes the people in the crowd, stripping them of their individuality and turning them into a large, swarming mass. There's also a strong implication that the lower classes are insects and that they can be easily crushed.
Anxiety. More than anything, what separates Bernard from the other Alphas is his anxiety, which makes it difficult for him to engage with them according to their social standards of behavior. He isn't like them in the sense that he isn't carefree, doesn't have a robust sex life, and can't interact in an easy and unselfconscious manner. This separates him from others and adds to his feelings of isolation.
Art. Though Mustapha Mond made it very clear in the last chapter that history (and, with it, classical and modern art) had been destroyed, new forms of art have emerged in this new world, with very different goals and methodologies. Helmholtz wants to believe that he can make great art, but he feels that a severe lack of subject matter (stemming from the lack of individuality, freedom, and drama in this homogenized world) hampers his ability to create. Later, we'll see how his desire to create art pushes him to rebel against the State.
Isolation. For Bernard, isolation stems from his anxiety and his perceived physical inferiority. On the other hand, Helmholtz's isolation is self-imposed and stems from his feelings of intellectual superiority to other writers and artists. In both cases, isolation negatively affects their reputations, making it difficult for them to interact with other people, who have branded them as being unusual. In this homogenized and artificially stable world, deviating from the norm is very nearly a crime.
Relationships. Just as this world has made nuclear families obsolete, so has it changed the way people engage in romantic relationships. Traditional rules of courtship don't seem to apply, and people don't "date" so much as "have" (meaning sleep with) other characters. Monogamy is discouraged to the point of being considered taboo, and being in a relationship for four months is shocking and abnormal. In eliminating the desire for deep interpersonal relationships, the State has effectively eliminated the ability to feel with any real depth, thus establishing a low emotional baseline that effectively tames the general population.