What purpose does Bernard serve in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?

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One simple purpose Bernard Marx serves in the novel is as the vehicle bringing John the Savage (and Linda) to the World State. Marx is highly intelligent, and despite his conditioning, questions some of the premises of his society. He also wants to take what is apparently an extremely rare trip in his society: he plans to visit the Indian Reservation outside of the boundaries of the world state. Very few people have done this.

It is while at the Savage Reservation that Marx encounters Linda and John and brings them back to his world. This allows the second half of the book to unfold.

But Marx is more than simply a vehicle or plot device to bring a "savage" to "civilization." He begins the process of questioning his society's values, for example, by seeking solitude with Lenina hovering above the sea water in his helicopter, which unnerves her. He is a misfit. He asks Lenina if she doesn't ever want to be her own person, free of conditioning:

But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.

He helps prepare us for the more extreme challenge to the World State that John will represent.

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Instead of viewing Bernard as the main protagonist, we could argue that his role in the novel is to give us an understanding of how this unique society functions. Specifically, Bernard enables the reader to see that this highly-stratified society is not as free and fun-loving as it appears. In fact, it has a much darker side to it.

To see an example of this, think about what we can learn from Bernard's relationship with Lenina. As we see in the text, Bernard clearly wants to form a bond with Lenina. He tries to be romantic by showing her the ocean, for example, and regrets having sex with her so quickly. In contrast, Lenina never breaks from her conditioning. She is promiscuous and finds Bernard to be quite odd.

Therefore, through Bernard's relationship with Lenina, the reader comes to understand just how empty and sterile this society is. Instead of forming meaningful relationships, this society only values instant gratification. Through Bernard, we see that this has a negative impact on a person's sense of self and of happiness. It has also caused others to view him in a negative light because they think he is weird. For Bernard, this means that he is viewed as a social outsider.

Bernard, therefore, provides a valuable insight into the real effects of conditioning and the abandonment of meaningful relationships.

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Bernard is the first protagonist for the first part of Huxley's novel. The reader sees most of the new world through his eyes until he discovers John the Savage. Bernard's suffering for acceptance in the novel is paled in comparison to John's, so that seems to be part of the reason that he slowly fades away as the main character. Bernard becomes a mentor to John, but doesn't fulfill that role properly because he doesn't understand or care enough about John. Bernard only ever cares about himself and uses John in the process. At that point, John is the victim and Bernard is the aggressor; however, he is a mild aggressor compared to the society itself. Hence, Bernard's purpose is to show one of the many perspectives of misfits clamoring to obtain approval in a "perfect" society. At one point early on in the book, when the students are learning about genetic engineering of children, the Controller says, "No civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual stability" (48); Bernard, in fact, is one who is not stable individually, and therefore represents how a person can be cast out from society if they do not follow it properly.

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