Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 6 Summary
When this chapter begins, Lenina is having doubts about going on vacation with Bernard. In the weeks leading up to the vacation, they go on various dates, each of which leaves Lenina with the impression that Bernard is "odd," as she puts it. Instead of wanting to play golf, he wants to talk. When she drags him to a wrestling match, he becomes surly. On the way back home, he frightens her by shutting down his helicopter's propeller and allowing it to hover over the ocean, in spite of the bad weather. He tells her that he doesn't like being "just a cell in the social body," though the thought of not being part of the social body makes her cry. Seeing this, Bernard agrees to go, and the two wind up in bed together, though this disappoints him. The next day, he tells her he didn't want to jump right into bed with her, and this idea seems dangerous to her. Nevertheless, she still intends to go on vacation with him.
Bernard has the unpleasant experience of seeing the Director to get a document signed: a permit for his vacation to the New Mexican Reservation, also known as the Savage Reservation. It leads the Director to reminisce about his own visit to the Reservation, about twenty years before, when his girlfriend got lost and he had to leave her behind. It upset him a lot at the time, but he's more or less over it now. Just the occasional nightmare. He says all this as if Bernard isn't really there, and when he comes back to himself he's irritated with Bernard and reprimands him for his "odd" behavior outside of work. This paradoxically leaves Bernard elated, and he boasts about it to his friend Helmholtz, who looks at him with such embarrassment that Bernard blushes and then has to look away.
Bernard and Lenina fly down to New Mexico. On the first night, they stay at a "lovely" hotel in Santa Fe, then move on to the Reservation, where their lodgings are pretty primitive: no TV, no hot water. Bernard tells Lenina she can stay in Santa Fe if she wants. The next day, the Warden of the Reservation takes them on a tour, warning them that they'll see things they find unsettling: pagan rituals, children who were born rather than decanted, diseases. When Bernard calls up his friend Helmholtz, asking him to run by his apartment, Helmholtz tells him that the Director has decided to replace Bernard. He's to be sent to Iceland. The thought terrifies him. In the wake of his news, he takes four soma tablets and is flown with Lenina out to the Reservation itself, where they're to stay in a small square house. Their pilot tells them not to worry—the savages are tame.
Chapter 6 Analysis
Huxley foreshadows two major events in the novel: 1) Bernard's discovery of John, the Director's illegitimate, natural-born son, and 2) Bernard's exile to Iceland. Both events are alluded to in this chapter, but the former will delay the latter.
Ageism. Hand in hand with the themes of racism and classism is that of ageism, which is yet another form of prejudice that this brave new world blithely embraces. Bernard explains to Lenina that they've all been bioengineered to live in a state of perpetual youth until their premature deaths roughly at the age of sixty. This prevents the population from aging, becoming infirm, and experiencing any of the unpleasantness associated with death. The bodies are then cremated, allowing the living to move on without fearing death or having negative associations with it. In later chapters, we'll see how children are conditioned not to be affected by death.
Exile. In a world where the thought of not being part of the social body can drive people like Lenina to tears, the threat of being exiled is a grave one and makes Bernard reconsider if he really wants to be so "different" from others. His isolation, though essential to his character, is only possible and fruitful if it takes place within the context of civilization of a whole. Being an exile is, as Bernard discovers, very different from being an outcast, and he doesn't want to go to Iceland. Luckily for him, the events of the next few chapters will delay that exile, but not for long.
Racism. This novel was written in 1932 and unfortunately proves itself to be a product of its time in terms of race and gender. It's no accident that the lower castes are almost always described as people of color and that Native Americans are referred to as "savages," like they were when the racists and early "pioneers" of the United States perpetrated the genocide against the Native Americans (one could argue that this genocide is still going on today). Though there are some characters from the upper castes who appear to be people of color, such as Benito Hoover, Alphas and Betas are, for the most part, white, which makes the fact that this brave new world is fueled by what amounts to slave labor all the more unsettling.