Last Updated on April 1, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1955
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 7
The dress of the young man who now stepped out on to the terrace was Indian; but his plaited hair was straw-coloured, his eyes a pale blue, and his skin a white skin, bronzed.
“Hull. Good-morrow,” said the stranger, in faultless but peculiar English. “You’re civilized, aren’t you? You come from the Other Place, outside the Reservation?”
“Who on earth . . . ?” Bernard began in astonishment.
The young man sighed and shook his head. “A most unhappy gentleman.” And pointing to the bloodstains in the centre of the square. “Do you see that damned spot?” he asked in a voice that trembled with emotion.
“A gramme is better than a damn,” said Lenina mechanically from behind her hands. “I wish I had my soma!”
“I ought to have been there,” the young man went on. “Why wouldn’t they let me be the sacrifice? I’d have gone round ten times—twelve, fifteen. Palowhtiwa only got as far as seven. They could have had twice as much blood from me. The multitudinous seas incarnadine.” He flung out his arms in a lavish gesture; then, despairingly, let them fall again. “But they wouldn’t let me. They disliked me for my complexion. It’s always been like that. Always.” Tears stood in the young man’s eyes; he was ashamed and turned away.
Bernard and Lenina are vacationing on the Savage Reservation in New Mexico. Lenina is shocked by the pure naturalness of the people and their lives. Here, babies are born, not hatched. Women nurse their children. Old men and women exist after the age of sixty. Without the drug soma, Lenina is forced to experience this world as it is. Her senses are overwhelmed. At a ceremony, she sees a young boy, whipped with branches in a religious dance. There, she and Bernard meet John Savage. John is dressed as a Native American, but he has blond hair and blue eyes—clearly not a Native American. John is in fact the son of an Englishwoman, Linda, who came over twenty years ago with the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning; there Linda gave birth to their son, John, because there was no birth control or abortion clinic on the reservation. In the passage quoted above, John laments that he was not the one to be “sacrificed,” by dancing and submitting to the whipping in the ceremony. Stating that he was not chosen because of his appearance, John begins to weep in shame.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 9
“I wonder if you’d like to come back to London with us?” he asked, making the first move in a campaign whose strategy he had been secretly elaborating ever since, in the little house, he had realized who the “father” of this young savage must be. “Would you like that?”
The young man’s face lit up. “Do you really mean it?"
“Of course; if I can get permission, that is.”
“Well . . .” He hesitated doubtfully. That revolting creature! No, it was impossible. Unless, unless. . . . It suddenly occurred to Bernard that her very revoltingness might prove an enormous asset. “But of course!” he cried, making up for his first hesitations with an excess of noisy cordiality.
The young man drew a deep breath. “To think it should be coming true—what I’ve dreamt of all my life. Do you remember what Miranda says?”
But the young man had evidently not heard the question. “O wonder!” he was saying; and his eyes shone, his face was brightly flushed. “How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!” The flush suddenly deepened; he was thinking of Lenina, of an angel in bottle-green viscose, lustrous with youth and skin food, plump, benevolently smiling. He voice faltered. “O brave new world,” he began, then suddenly interrupted himself; the blood had left his cheeks; he was as pale as paper. “Are you married to her?” he asked.
“Am I what?”
“Married. You know—for ever. They say ‘for ever’ in the Indian words; it can’t be broken.”
“Ford, no!” Bernard couldn’t help laughing.
John also laughed, but for another reason—laughed for pure joy.
“O brave new world,” he repeated. “O brave new world that has such people in it. . . .”
Bernard and Lenina hear John talk about his life on the Savage Reservation. Abandoned by the Director, Linda has difficulty adjusting to the morals and mores of the people, especially their resistance to promiscuity. She is beaten and alienated, and John along with her. She tells him as he grows up about her old home, where there are beautiful buildings and bright lights. She paints it as a wonderland, and John is anxious to go there. He wants to get away especially from Popé, his mother’s Native American lover, who despises him. The one good thing, according to John, that Popé did was to give him a copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. John devours the words, and soon the Elizabethan speech has modified the way he talks. This explains the difference that Bernard has noticed in his conversation: it’s perfect English yet still strange. Bernard, seeing an opportunity for revenge against the Director, invites John to return to London with him. John is overjoyed that at last he can go to the land that his mother has told him about. Although Bernard is reluctant to take Linda back too, he agrees, seeing this as an even better opportunity to get back at the Director. In pure joy, John quotes another line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “O brave new world that has such people in it.”
Essential Passage 3: Chapter 18
He was digging in his garden—digging, too, in his own mind, laboriously turning up the substance of his thought. Death—and he drove in his spade once, and again, and yet again. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. A convincing thunder rumbled through the words. He lifted another spadeful of earth. Why had Linda died? Why had she been allowed to become gradually less than human and at last...He shuddered. A good hissing carrion. He planted his foot on his spade and stamped it fiercely into the tough ground. As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport. Thunder again; words that proclaimed themselves true—truer somehow than truth itself. And yet that same Gloucester had called them ever-gentle gods. Besides, thy best of rest is sleep and that thou oft provok’st; yet grossly fear’st thy death which is not more. No more than sleep. Sleep. Perchance to dream. His spade struck against a stone; he stooped to pick it up. For in that sleep of death, what dreams?
After Linda’s death, John has become increasingly dissatisfied with the New World of London. His encounter with Lenina, who attempted to seduce him, has changed his opinion of her from adoration to contempt. The callousness of the children coming to see his mother for their “death conditioning” angers him. Therefore, he is going into exile on the seacoast. He establishes himself in an abandoned lighthouse, planting himself a garden, and making a bow and arrows. However, he is constantly badgered by tourists, who come to the lighthouse in helicopters to see the Savage, as he is now called. Angrily he drives them away, realizing at last that he cannot be allowed to live a solitary life as he desires. As he digs in his garden, his mind is flowing with quotations from his beloved Shakespeare. He thinks of phrases on the arbitrary nature of God and the desirability of death. Eventually, no longer wanting to live in this “brave new world,” John hangs himself in the lighthouse.
Analysis of Essential Passages
John the Savage was raised outside of the “system” that controls society in Brave New World. Born on the New Mexico reservation to his mother, Linda, and his absent father, the Director, John is a product of the natural world that still exists outside of the New World. Not accepted in the Native American world, he seeks the bright haven that Linda has told him the New World is. However, once he enters that world, he finds it is less than he imagined, so much so that he chooses no longer to live in it.
Belonging to neither world, he is a loner in a society when being alone is considered suspect; in fact, it is considered downright wrong. As a loner, he fascinates Bernard, who has fancied himself as a loner as well, though he realizes, once he meets John, that this is the true Solitary Man. The instant connection that the two have devolves into a mutual use of the other as a means to get what he wants: John to go to the New World, and Bernard to exact his revenge against the Director. Both get what they want, but with unhappy results.
At the introduction of John, he feels alienated by being excluded from the religious dance ceremony. He seeks the honor of being a sacrifice for the people. In this, John sets himself up as a Christ-figure, willing to bear the pain of the people for their salvation. Yet, like Christ, he too is “despised and rejected,” in John’s case because his appearance does not match those of his community. As the New World prizes identity based on being identical to others in one’s group, so the reservation holds to the same definition of identity. Huxley is saying that society by definition is identity with the whole. True loners—true individuals—like John will inevitably be lost.
John’s attraction to Lenina symbolizes the old civilization. Rather than pure sex, as all relationships are in the New World, John prizes love. When presented with the opportunity for sex, he resists (as when he finds Lenina in the cabin asleep) or else is repulsed (as when Lenina tries to seduce him in London). His notion of the proper role between a man and a woman is love, not sex. In this he isolates himself even more, just as his mother, Linda, did when she first entered the reservation with the promiscuity which she was raised as believing was proper behavior.
In the end, John withdraws from both societies to his exile in the lighthouse. The lighthouse is often used as a beacon of hope, and in this sense John retreats to it in hopes that he can regain the life he lost when he came to the New World. In the end, however, he discovers that there is no retreat, that the evil he tried to escape has followed him there. Thus, John gives up hope and kills himself. Although he has escaped the conditioning of the New World, his own conditioning on the reservation has led him to believe that his separateness and isolation are products of himself, his own essential nature or being. He had hoped that in the New World he would find that to be not true, but instead he found that once again he is alienated for what he is. His death, therefore, is inevitable. As he initially wanted to endure the pain of being the sacrifice in the dance ceremony on the reservation, in the end he is a sacrifice to the idea he has of what humanity could be but ultimately cannot. Humanity is thwarted by the restrictions of society, whether the society of the New World or that of the reservation. This “brave new world” has no place for dreamers, which John in essence is. His death is a sacrifice to that dream.