Thursday, October 7, 2010

Read free novels online: BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

Book Summary

The Introduction (Chapters 1–6)

The novel opens in London in the "year of our Ford 632" (AD 2540 in the Gregorian Calendar). The vast majority of the population is unified under The World State, an eternally peaceful, stable global society in which goods and resources are plentiful (because the population is permanently limited to no more than two billion people) and everyone is happy. Natural reproduction has been done away with and children are created, 'decanted' and raised in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, where they are divided into five castes (which are further split into 'Plus' and 'Minus' members) and designed to fulfill predetermined positions within the social and economic strata of the World State. Fetuses chosen to become members of the highest caste, 'Alpha', are allowed to develop naturally while maturing to term in "decanting bottles", while fetuses chosen to become members of the lower castes ('Beta', 'Gamma', 'Delta', 'Epsilon') are subjected to in situ chemical interference to cause arrested development in intelligence or physical growth. Each 'Alpha' or 'Beta' is the product of one unique fertilized egg developing into one unique fetus. Members of lower castes are not unique but are instead created using the Bokanovsky process which enables a single egg to spawn (at the point of the story being told) up to 96 children and one ovary to produce thousands of children. To further increase the birthrate of Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, Podsnap's Technique causes all the eggs in the ovary to mature simultaneously, allowing the hatchery to get full use of the ovary in two years' time. People of these castes make up the majority of human society, and the production of such specialized children bolsters the efficiency and harmony of society, since these people are deliberately limited in their cognitive and physical abilities, as well as the scope of their ambitions and the complexity of their desires, thus rendering them easier to motivate, manipulate and control. All children are educated via the hypnopaedic process, which simultaneously provides each child with fact-based education and caste-appropriate subconscious messages to mold the child's life-long self-image, class conscientious, social outlook, habits, tastes, morals, ambitions and prejudices, and other values and ideals chosen by the leaders of the World State and their predetermined plans for producing future adult generations.

To maintain the World State's Command Economy for the indefinite future, all citizens are conditioned from birth to value consumption with such platitudes as "ending is better than mending," i.e., buy a new one instead of fixing the old one, because constant consumption, and near-universal employment to meet society's material demands, is the bedrock of economic and social stability for the World State. Beyond providing social engagement and distraction in the material realm of work or play, the need for transcendence, solitude and spiritual communion is addressed with the ubiquitous availability and universally-endorsed consumption of the drug soma. Soma is an allusion to a mythical drink of the same name consumed by ancient Indo-Aryans. In the book, soma is a hallucinogen that takes users on enjoyable, hangover-free "holidays", developed by the World State to provide such inner-directed personal experiences within the socially-managed context of State-run 'religious' organizations, social clubs, and the hypnopaedically-inculcated affinity to the State-produced drug as a self-medicating comfort mechanism in the face of stress or discomfort, thereby eliminating the need for religion or other personal allegiances outside or beyond the World State.

Recreational sex is an integral part of society. According to The World State, sex is a social activity, rather than a means of reproduction, and sexual activity is encouraged from early childhood. The few women who can reproduce are conditioned to use birth control (a "Malthusian belt", resembling a cartridge belt holding "the regulation supply of contraceptives", is a popular fashion accessory). The maxim "everyone belongs to everyone else" is repeated often, and the idea of a "family" is considered pornographic; sexual competition and emotional, romantic relationships are rendered obsolete because they are no longer needed. Marriage, natural birth, parenthood, and pregnancy are considered too obscene to be mentioned in casual conversation. Thus, society has developed a new idea of reproductive comprehension.

Spending time alone is considered an outrageous waste of time and money. Admitting to wanting to be an individual is shocking, horrifying, and embarrassing. This is why John, a character in the book, is later afforded celebrity-like status. Conditioning trains people to consume and never to enjoy being alone, so by spending an afternoon not playing "Obstacle Golf," or not in bed with a friend, one is forfeiting acceptance.

In The World State, people typically die at age 60[11] having maintained good health and youthfulness their whole life. Death isn't feared; anyone reflecting upon it is reassured by the knowledge that everyone is happy, and that society goes on. Since no one has family, they have no ties to mourn.

The conditioning system eliminates the need for professional competitiveness; people are literally bred to do their jobs and cannot desire another. There is no competition within castes; each caste member receives the same food, housing, and soma rationing as every other member of that caste. There is no desire to change one's caste, largely because a person's sleep-conditioning teaches that his or her caste is superior to the other four. To grow closer with members of the same class, citizens participate in mock religious services called Solidarity Services, in which twelve people consume large quantities of soma and sing hymns. The ritual progresses through group hypnosis and climaxes in an orgy. In geographic areas nonconducive to easy living and consumption, securely contained groups of "savages" are left to their own devices.

In its first chapters, the novel describes life in The World State as wonderful and introduces Lenina and Bernard. Lenina is a socially accepted woman, normal for her society, while Bernard, a psychologist, is an outcast. Although an Alpha Plus, Bernard is shorter in stature than the average of his caste—a quality shared by the lower castes, which gives him an inferiority complex. His work with sleep-teaching has led him to realize that what others believe to be their own deeply held beliefs are merely phrases repeated to children while they sleep. Still, he recognizes the necessity of such programming as the reason why his society meets the emotional needs of its citizens. Courting disaster, he is vocal about being different, once stating he dislikes soma because he'd "rather be himself." Bernard's differences fuel rumors that he was accidentally administered alcohol while incubated, a method used to keep Epsilons short.

Lenina, a woman who seldom questions her own motivations, is reprimanded by her friends because she is not promiscuous enough. However, she is still highly content in her role as a woman. Both fascinated and disturbed by Bernard, she responds to Bernard's advances to dispel her reputation for being too selective and monogamous.

Bernard's only friend is Helmholtz Watson, an Alpha Plus lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering (Department of Writing). The friendship is based on their similar experiences as misfits, but unlike Bernard, Watson's sense of loneliness stems from being too gifted, too handsome, and too physically strong. Helmholtz is drawn to Bernard as a confidant: he can talk to Bernard about his desire to write poetry.
[edit] The Reservation and the Savage (Chapters 7–9)

Bernard, desperately wanting Lenina's attention, tries to impress her by taking her on holiday to a Savage Reservation. The reservation, located in New Mexico, consists of a community named Malpais. From afar, Lenina thinks it will be exciting. In person, she finds the aged, toothless natives who mend their clothes rather than throw them away repugnant, and the situation is made worse when she discovers that she has left her soma tablets at the resort hotel. Bernard is fascinated, although he realizes his seduction plans have failed.

In typical tourist fashion, Bernard and Lenina watch what at first appears to be a quaint native ceremony. The village folk, whose culture resemble the contemporary Indian groups of the region, descendants of the Anasazi, including the Puebloan peoples of Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni, and the Ramah Navajo, begin by singing, but the ritual quickly becomes a passion play where a village boy is whipped to unconsciousness.

Soon after, the couple encounters Linda, a woman formerly of The World State who has been living in Malpais since she came on a trip and became separated from her group and her date, to whom she refers as "Tomakin" but who is revealed to be Bernard's boss the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning, Thomas. She became pregnant because she mistimed her "Malthusian Drill" and there were no facilities for an abortion. Linda gave birth to a son, John (later referred to as John the Savage) who is now eighteen.

Through conversations with Linda and John, we learn that their life has been hard. For eighteen years, they have been treated as outsiders; the natives hate Linda for sleeping with all the men of the village, as she was conditioned to do, and John was mistreated and excluded for his mother's actions, not to mention the role of racism. John's one joy was that his mother had taught him to read, although he only had two books: a scientific manual from his mother's job, which he called a "beastly, beastly book" and refused to read, and a collection of the works of Shakespeare (a work banned in The World State). John has been denied the religious rituals of the village, although he has watched them and even has had some of his own religious experiences in the desert.

Old, weathered and tired, Linda wants to return to her familiar world in London; she is tired of a life without soma. John wants to see the "brave new world" his mother has told him so much about. Bernard wants to take them back as revenge against Thomas, who had just reassigned Bernard to Iceland as punishment for his antisocial beliefs. Bernard arranges permission for Linda and John to leave the reservation.
[edit] The Savage visits the World State (Chapters 10–18)

Upon his return to London, Bernard is confronted by Thomas Tomakin, the Director of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre who, in front of an audience of higher-caste Centre workers, denounces Bernard for his antisocial behaviour. Bernard, thinking that for the first time in his life he has the upper hand, defends himself by presenting the Director with his long lost lover and unknown son, Linda and John, John falls to his knees and calls Thomas his father, which causes an uproar of laughter. The humiliated Director resigns in shame.

Spared from reassignment, Bernard makes John the toast of London. Pursued by the highest members of society, able to bed any woman he fancies, Bernard revels in attention he once scorned. Everyone who is anyone will endure Bernard to dine with the interesting, different, beautiful John. Even Lenina grows fond of the savage, while the savage falls in love with her. Bernard, intoxicated with attention, falls in love with himself. In short, John brings tremendous happiness upon the citizens of London.

The victory, however, is short lived. Linda, decrepit, toothless, friendless, goes on a permanent soma holiday while John, appalled by what he perceives to be an empty society, refuses to attend Bernard's parties. Society drops Bernard as swiftly as it had taken him. Bernard turns to the person he'd believed to be his one true friend, only to see Helmholtz fall into a quick, easy camaraderie with John. Bernard is left an outcast yet again as he watches the only two men with whom he ever connected find more of interest in each other than they ever did in him.

John and Helmholtz's island of peace is brief. John grows frustrated by a society he finds wicked and debased. He is moved by Lenina, but also loathes her sexual advances, which revolt and shame him. He is heartbroken when his mother succumbs to soma and dies in a hospital. John's grief bewilders and revolts the hospital workers, and their lack of reaction to Linda's death prompts John to try to force humanity from the workers by throwing their soma rations out a window. The ensuing riot brings the police, who soma-gas the crowd. Bernard and Helmholtz arrive to help John, but only Helmholtz helps him, while Bernard stands to the side, torn between risking involvement by helping or escaping the scene.

When they wake, Bernard, Helmholtz and John are brought before Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller for Western Europe. Bernard and Helmholtz are told they will be exiled to islands of their choice. Mond explains that exile to the islands is not so much a threat to force freethinkers to reform and rejoin society but a place where they may act as they please, because they will not be an influence on the population. He also divulges that he too once risked banishment to an island because of some scientific experiments that were deemed controversial by the state, giving insight into his sympathetic tone. Helmholtz chooses the Falkland Islands, because of their terrible weather, so he could write well, but Bernard simply doesn't want to leave and struggles with the World Controller and is thrown out of the office. After Bernard and Helmholtz have left, Mustapha and John engage in a philosophical argument on the morals behind the godless society and then John is told the "experiment" will continue and he will not be sent to an island.

In the final chapter, John isolates himself from society in a lighthouse outside London where he finds his hermit life interrupted from mourning his mother by the more bitter memories of civilization. To atone, John brutally whips himself in the open, a ritual the Indians in his own village had said he was not capable of. His self-flagellation, caught on film and shown publicly, destroys his hermit life. Hundreds of gawking sightseers, intrigued by John's violent behavior, fly out to watch the savage in person. Even Lenina comes to watch, crying a tear John does not see. The sight of the woman whom he both adores and blames is too much for him; John attacks and whips her. This sight of genuine, unbridled emotion drives the crowd wild with excitement, and—handling it as they are conditioned to—they turn on each other, in a frenzy of beating and chanting that devolves into a mass orgy of soma and sex. In the morning, John, hopeless, alone, horrified by his drug use, and the orgy in which he participated that countered his beliefs, makes one last attempt to escape civilization and atone. When thousands of gawking sightseers arrive that morning, frenzied at the prospect of seeing the savage perform again, they find John dead, hanging by the neck. *from Wikipedia*

About the Author

Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts.

Aldous Huxley was a humanist and pacifist, and he was latterly interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. He is also well known for advocating and taking psychedelics.

By the end of his life Huxley was considered, in some academic circles, a leader of modern thought and an intellectual of the highest rank, and highly regarded as one of the most prominent explorers of visual communication and sight-related theories as well.[1] *from Wikipedia*

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