Brave New World Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis
by Aldous Huxley

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Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis

Bernard and Lenina are being led around the reservation by a guide. Lenina refers to everything as "queer" (her word for things she dislikes) and finds the bodies and habits of the "savages" too beastly to think about. They walk around for a bit. See an angle. Look at some hills. They're nice hills. Then their guide takes them to the pueblo, where Lenina is appalled by the squalor, old age, and disease she encounters. Bernard explains that this is what life would be like if human beings weren't engineered to always be youthful and free of disease. Without the calming effects of her soma, Lenina finds this visit horrific and stressful and is upset by the pagan ritual she witnesses.

Though the music at this ritual bears a passing resemblance to that at the Solidarity Services, the ritual is like nothing Bernard and Lenina have ever seen: there are drums beating, men in masks, and elaborate dances with obscure meanings that Lenina doesn't understand. One man opens up a chest and reveals dozens of snakes, which he throws onto the ground. A boy allows himself to be whipped in front of everyone, for the good of the pueblo. Another boy, who will later be revealed as John, the Director's illegitimate son, explains to Bernard and Lenina that they whipped the boy in hopes of making the rain come. John wishes that he had been whipped, because he considers it a great honor.

Bernard, realizing that it's uncommon for a white person like John to have grown up on a Savage Reservation, asks him how he came to live there and hears the other side of the Director's story: John's mother is Linda, the Director's ex-girlfriend, who was left behind and only found out that she was pregnant afterward. Out of shame, she stayed on the reservation rather than have to face the humiliation of being pregnant. She had John via live birth and raised him on the reservation, teaching him to read from a manual and a large book of Shakespeare's works. This was difficult for her, because she was only a Beta who worked in the Fertilizing Room and, thus, had no skills beyond those needed to perform her duties. She can't mend her clothes, explain how a helicopter works, or answer John's more philosophical questions. She can only suffer what she thinks of as the "madness" of life on the Savage Reservation.

Symbols

The Crucifix. During the ritual performed on the Reservation, the Native Americans reveal an image of what is probably Jesus Christ crucified on the Cross. This image, though never explicitly linked to Jesus, nevertheless becomes a symbol of his suffering and suffering in general. It's fitting that after this image is revealed a boy is whipped, symbolically suffering for his sins in order to make the rains come.

The Eagle. In the United States, the eagle has become a symbol of American pride, but in Native American cultures, it remains a symbol of power and of man's connection with the divine. This symbolism reaches all the way back to ancient Greece and beyond and can be found in classical texts such as The Odyssey. During the ritual in this chapter, the eagle is a spirit that allows the tribespeople to connect with the underworld.

Themes

Cleanliness.  During their conditioning process, children are taught that "Civilization is Sterilization." This has two meanings: 1) that the civilization is made possible in part by the sterilization of roughly 70% of the female population, and 2) that cleanliness is paramount and that the whole world should be as sterile and antiseptic as possible. This is similar to the adage "cleanliness is next to godliness," which asserts that one must be clean to be close to God. Remove the religion from that...

(The entire section is 942 words.)