Brave New World Summary
by Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World Summary

Brave New World is a dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley in which Bernard Marx travels outside of the insulated World State and brings back a young man named John, who struggles to adapt to the hedonistic, drug-fueled lifestyle.

  • While on vacation on a "savage reservation," Bernard meets John, who learned to read using Shakespeare's works. Bernard brings John back to the World State.
  • John is labeled a savage and becomes a kind of sideshow attraction.
  • John struggles to reconcile his understanding of the world with the hedonistic lifestyle of the World State.
  • Overcome by disgust and alienation, John commits suicide.

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Summary

Brave New World is considered one of the greatest works of science fiction ever written, and the first several chapters of the novel are spent worldbuilding so that the reader will understand how this brave new world operates. Fittingly, the first chapter opens with a guided tour of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning is leading a group of young students through the building, explaining the more complicated science that the author, Aldous Huxley, has invented for the novel. During this tour, the reader learns that everyone in this civilization is a clone, the product of Bokanovsky's Process, which takes a single fertilized egg, arrests the development, and then forces it to bud or split, creating up to ninety-six viable embryos, which in turn create ninety-six identical twins. This homogenization process has been perfected for the purpose of creating order in the world. Their world motto is "Community, Identity, Stability."

To maintain that stability, the World Controllers have devised a system wherein different classes of people (Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons) correspond to different levels of power, intellect, and wealth, with Alphas at the top with the best jobs and Epsilons at the bottom with all the grunt work. They're been conditioned to accept their station through an elaborate, systematic brainwashing process that involves sleep teaching, electric shocks, and explosions. Everyone, the Director says, is conditioned to hate nature but to love playing sports in the country, which World Controllers find productive because it stimulates the economy. All these decisions are made by a group of ten people, including one Mustapha Mond, the Resident Controller for Western Europe, whom we'll get to know later in the novel.

During this long tour, the reader is introduced to two of the main characters of the novel: Bernard Marx, an Alpha-Plus with a reputation for being antisocial, and Lenina Crowne, his love interest, whom he'll briefly date. In an awkward scene in an elevator, Lenina approaches him in front of a former conquest of hers, Benito Hoover, and asks Bernard if he still wants to take her away for a vacation in New Mexico. He gets flustered, which is considered strange in this society, then goes to talk to his friend Helmholtz, a screenwriter for the "feelies" (what they call the movies). Their vacation won't come until two chapters later, in Chapter 6, and in the meantime Lenina goes on a date with Henry, another suitor of hers, according to the dictum that "every one belongs to every one else" and that nobody should practice monogamy. Bernard is somewhat uncomfortable with this, which leads to trouble in both his personal and professional life.

Before he goes to New Mexico, he happens to speak with his boss, the Director, who threatens to banish him to Iceland (where some of the people who question authority are sent) if he makes so much as one more mistake at work. During this brief conversation, the Director tells Bernard that he went to New Mexico, too, once, and that he lost his girlfriend in the desert and left her behind. This foreshadows a scene in Chapter 7 when Bernard and Lenina, during their visit to the savage reservation, meet a young man named John and his mother, Linda, the woman the Director left in the desert....

(The entire section is 1,221 words.)