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Brave New World | Chapter 8

 

Summary of chapter VIII


Bernard asks John to tell him what it was like growing up in the Indian village. John tells them about how his mother Linda used to have sex with many men. Pope became her steady lover because he brought her mescal (alcohol), At one point Linda was beaten by the women of the village because they were upset that she kept sleeping with their husbands. Following the beating, Linda slapped John because she blamed him for her predicament.

John was taught to read by Linda as he was growing up. Reading became his way of feeling superior to the other boys who used to beat and taunt him. Around his twelfth birthday John received a volume of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. He learned to read the entire volume and was inspired by the fiery passages. At one point he attempted to kill Pope and claims to have been inspired by a verse from Shakespeare.

At fifteen John was taught how to make clay pots by one of the older Indians. Later he was taught how to construct bows and arrows by the same man. However, John was not allowed to enter the kiva, a ritual initiation to make the young boys into men. Instead he was driven from the village by a barrage of stones. This incident highlighted his status as an outsider and led him to feel isolated and alone.

John and Bernard share the fact that they are both isolated within their respective cultures. John tells Bernard that he snuck off once to have the sacred animal dreams that the Indian boys must have, even though the tribe had not let him go with the other boys. It becomes apparrent that John experiences everything quite emotionally, diametrically opposed to what each society considers "normal" behaviour.

Bernard cleverly invites John to return to England with him, having realized that John could be useful in ensuring that he is not sent to Iseland. Bernard's plan is to use John as a means of blackmailing the Director. John is thrilled to be able to go to England and exclaims, "Oh brave new world" when he hears that Linda will be allowed to come along as well.
 

Analysis of a scene from chapter 8 of Huxley's novel "Brave New World"


1. Sum up what has happend right before this scene, what the conversation is about, and what happens directly afterwards
Directly before this scene, Bernhard and Lenina have arrived at the reservation through which a guide leads them. Lenina doesn't like it at all; Bernhard, however, watches the reservation and its people carefully and seems to be interested in everything. Both become witnesses of a ceremony, which can be called a rite of initiation, which takes place in the marketplace of the Indian city of Malpais: in it a young man is running about the square and each round he passes a priestlike Indian he is whipped by him, until he collapses. Then a young man named John introduces himself to them, telling them that his mother is from Brave New World and that his father still lives there. He also explains that he and his mother Linda are not accepted as full members of the Indian society. Thus Bernhard presumes that the DHC is John's father. John continues with his and Linda's life story and the disrespect of the Indians which have made him a complete outsider.
The scene presented is a flashback of John's own rituals when he can't go through a ceremony in the Kiva to become a man like the other boys. John is also among them but when he wants to go down with them, he is pulled out of ranks. He is left alone and goes to the edge of a near-by precipice and is about to commit suicide but doesn't do so. Instead he develops his own rite by imitating the suffering and loneliness of Jesus on the cross.
Bernard mentions that he, too, suffers from loneliness because he is different from the other people in Brave New World. John is surprised at that but goes on telling him of his life as an outsider who wanted to cure himself. Bernhard regards it as a strange way of curing his unhappiness but he approves of it as being better than taking soma. When John shows him the proof of his suffering Bernhard changes the topic and asks John to come with him to Brave New World, because he plans to tell everybody that the DHC is John's father. John is surprised at this invitation and Bernhard manages to get permission for John and Linda to get to Brave New World. After this scene, Bernhard, Lenina, John and Linda depart for Brave New World where Bernhard meets with the DHC and presents John as his son and Linda as his mother and the DHC as his father to a hilariously laughing crew od workers of the HCC. After that, the DHC is so ashamed that he quits his job and disappears.
 
2. Describe John and Bernhard's relationship in this scene and compare John's loneliness with Bernard's (similarities and differences)
The relationship between the two is not balanced because Bernhard is superior, for he knows the two worlds and can plan and think ahead. John, however, has only an idealistic, limited knowledge of BNW and gives Bernhard all the explanation he needs to understand the reservation. But John is also superior to Bernhard in his experience of time, death and God and his creative forms of curing his sufferings. And he knows good literature to comfort him.
John and Bernhard have a good relationship in this scene, the best in all the novel, because Bernhard is interested in John and his biography and John is willing and happy that Bernhard is listening to him. He is also satisfied because his partner in the conversation is from Brave New World and he can speak English with him. They also have a good relationship in the sense that they have confidingness and mutal confidence and have in common that they are both lonely and outsiders in each of their worlds: Bernhard is different from the people in Brave New World because of a mistake that was made during Bokanovsky's process. There was put too much alcohol is into his blood surrogate and because of that he doesn't accord to the average outward appearance and behaviour. And John is an outsider in the reservation. He has not been conditioned but educated by the Indians and his mother from Brave New World but he, too, is not accepted in his world because of his different outward appearance and because he lives and is taught different things like reading English. The main reason why he is an outsider is that he is Linda's son who doesn't live according to the Indian moral norms. She is even regarded as a whore in the reservation. Nevertheless John tries hard to become a member of the society of the Indians, lives according to their rules and believes in their religion and wants to take part in their rites to become a full member of their society. Bernhard doesn't do that in Brave New World. He should do the same spare time activities like the others but he doesn't do so. He is very shy and wants to have his privacy which is regarded as morally wrong in Brave New World. That makes him lonely. Because of his outward appearance John is furthermore regarded as a person from Brave New World by the Indians although he shares their deep feelings and beliefs. That is another reason for his loneliness. John hasn't got any friends in the reservation except of his mother. From the limited point of view of people in Brave New World Bernhard has one good friend, named Helmholtz-Watson but he still feels and is lonely.
 
3. Analyse the atmosphere (nature ...) in the scene and show which feelings are aroused in the reader
Huxley has laid the setting from the very beginning of the scene: It is right, dark and frightening. The reader's senses are addressed, especially his eyes and ears and therefore he can visualize the scene very well despite the darkness. Because the acting characters (the boys who have to go through the Kiva) are afraid teh reader identifies with the Indians and John's feelings. The reader may also feel impatient because he is waiting for something to happen and because of that the reader develops more and more suspense which is enhanced by the setting of the night, the moon and the trembling boys.
Darkness, night and John's feelings make the reader frightened, because human beings are not so apt with sense enabling them to move as safely in the night and keep their orientation as during the day. The rising of the moon supports those feelings of insecurity because it has always been mysterious to human beings. The reader's ears are addressed and he cannot help feeling uncomfortable when the coyotes are howling at the moon. They make a loud and strange noise and in connection with the moon the reader feels more and more endangered and excepts death to happen soon.
The landscape is very flat and there are rocks in it which look like bleached bones, as is described in lines 14-15: "alone, into this skeleton world of rocks and moonlight." John is completely alone in the dark, and the reader sees nature with his eyes and is able to feel John's fear. The descriptionm of nature supports these feelings. Beside the reader is manipulated by Huxley who makes him feel pity for John. The metaphorical language make the reader visualize the environment clearly. The word "alone" increases the reader's fear because no one wants to be alone in the dark. The word "bones" belongs to a human skeleton and reminds the reader of death. The strange, lonely and frightening atmosphere is further enhanced by John's thought of committing suicide which gives teh scene an air of despair. Here it is used together with "rocks" which makes the reader frightened because a rock is regarded as a strong element of nature and appears ghostlike when the bright moonlight is shining on it. This term also increases teh tension.
The precipice at the edge on which John is standing has the same effect on teh reader because if John steps forward it means, that he will die. The term "the black shadow of the mensa" (line 17) describes teh darkness of his thoughts as well as teh dark night. This term is compared with the following expression: "the black shadow of death" (line 18). All these words are metaphors for death and underline that John seems to be surrounded by death. Besides the reader is afraid that John will commit suicide when he thinks that there is only one step to take to free him from his loneliness. The reader's feelings are roused by John's feelings and reach a climax in the words that John has discovered "Time and Death and God" (line 24). All these words are written in capital letters which shows that these abstract terms are personified, which give them a deep meaning. He has found God in his suffering and in imitating Christ when he tries to suffer like Jesus on the cross. Thereby he learns and knows that he is no longer alone in his suffering and that gives the atmosphere of a hot summer's day a warmer feeling.
 
4. Discuss if the two characters can be called friends in this scene. Say why or why not.
In my opinion Bernhard and John cannot be called friends in this scene. The main reason for that is that Bernhard doesn't really want to be John's friend because he intends to use John and Linda for his hatched out plan which is to tell everybody in Brave New World that the DHC is John's father. That will save him from being exiled from BNW but Bernhard also knows that that will end the DHC's career. So it can be said that John is only a tool in Bernar's career to make his plan come true and perhaps he sees John as an interesting creature. I think that Bernhard has known this fact from the first time when John mentioned his father. The reader can imagine what Bernhard's plan is because of a change in his behaviour and the topic in the scene.
Bernhard is not very shy towards John because he feels superior and makes a patronizing gesture. This is a profound change in his behaviour because he has been a very shy person, before. He has changed his behaviour to achieve his aims and that is also true in this scene when he can't bear to see the remnants of John's suffering (the scar on his forehead, which takes away from his handsome appearance) which real friends could bear to see. John doesn't know about Bernhard's plan which is another proof of their imbalanced relation. He thinks that Bernhard's feigned interest is meant honestly. So he sees him as a friend and trusts him. Bernhard's gesture to invite him to Brave New World is understood as a proof of Bernhard's friendliness or even friendship by John. He believes that Bernhard wants him to do him some good and to make up for his sufferings. But Bernhard onyl wants to profit from him.
Regarding all these aspects, I would say that they are not friends because a friendship has to be meant honestly on both sides.

 



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