Point Counter Point

by Aldous Huxley

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 351

Balancing Responsibility Toward Others with Personal Desires

The conflict between responsibilities and desires is something that many of the characters in Point Counter Point struggle with. This is best shown in the relationship between Walter and Marjorie. He is interested in other women and just wants to live with her as a friend. However, he has a responsibility to her, which he feels guilty for not fulfilling while he is out pursuing other women, because Marjorie is pregnant. Another character who manages her responsibilities—and those of her husband, who pursues his desires—is Rachel. She deals with the requirements of family life while her husband has an affair, gets another woman pregnant, and leaves Rachel to deal with the outcome.

Work and Media Eclipsing Humanity

Aldous Huxley sees work and media as a distraction from being human. He believes that real humanity is found in the pursuit of knowledge, beauty, and truth. Work, too, requires a person to give up being a complete person during the hours they're doing their job. He says that the creators of media want people to spend their time as machines but that this can be avoided by spending one's leisure time participating in activities that allow one to be a complete human. He says that work is a dirty thing, except for the fact that it keeps society together and keeps people fed. There is no sanctity in labor.

Intellectualism versus Personal Relationships

The characters find themselves living in such a way that they don't have to think of mundane things like family, illness, or child-rearing. This is only possible, however, because they have helpful spouses or others who are willing to take on that difficult emotional labor. For example, Elinor is forced to give up her dreams of Philip, her husband, pulling himself away from his love of literature and focusing on her, a real woman. She allows him to focus on being intellectual by managing his life and not making demands of him. Many of the characters are focused on intellectual pursuits instead of real life, even though these pursuits do not bring them happiness.

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