Brave New World/Summary
The novel begins in a bleak building known as the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where standardized fetuses are grown on in bottles on an assembly line. The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (D.H.C.) conducts a tour of students, explaining the process and why it is done. A caste system is mentioned but not thoroughly explained.
The D.H.C. and his students continue to the Infant Nurseries and Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms, where infants are conditioned and children are indoctrinated through hypnopaedia. Christianity seems to have been replaced by a worship of "Our Ford", and the cross has been replaced by a "T" (as in Ford's Model T).
There are multiple settings in this chapter. The first is a continuation of the tour of students, now under the supervision of Mustapha Mond, one of the ten World Controllers. He explained how promiscuity and self-pleasuring were considered immoral, instead of obligations to society that were encouraged. Meanwhile, two women, Fanny and Lenina discussed the fact that Lenina had been dating only Henry Foster for four months. In a third scene, Henry attempts to give Bernard Marx some soma, a drug described as "Euphoric, narcotic, [and] pleasantly hallucinant." The reader learns that Bernard had invited Lenina to a "savage" (Native America) reservation, a fact that will be important later in the book.
When Lenina takes Bernard up publicly on his offer to go to a Savage reservation, Bernard acts embarrassed because she says, "That is, if you still want to have me." When Lenina leaves, Benito Hoover, too, offers Bernard soma.
Bernard, ruminating on his feeling like an outcast and his un-Alpha-like physical inadequacy, visits Helmholtz Watson, who shares his feeling that something is wrong with society.
While Henry and Lenina are flying to a cabaret, they discuss death as if it were a mundane concept. Lenina is puzzled when Henry reminds her that humans of all castes are physico-chemically equal - phosphorus collected from burning an Alpha's body is just as useful as the phosphorus from an Epsilon.
Bernard Marx attends a Solidarity Service, which is an orgy of sex and soma dedicated to Ford.
Lenina, despite her discomfort with Bernard's preference for individualism, goes with him to the Savage reservation. When Bernard goes to the Director to finalize the authorization for the trip, the Director accidentally lets out that he fell in love with a girl, who died on a trip to the Reservation. The director, hearing of Bernard's strange behavior, threatens to send him to Iceland. Once in New Mexico, Bernard calls his friend Helmholtz Watson, who tells him that the Director's threat was genuine. Bernard, feeling appalled and fearful, takes two grammes of soma.
Bernard and Lenina watch a religious ceremony that combines Christianity and Native beliefs, but are surprised when they see a white man named John. It turns out that John was the son of the Director. John's mother Linda, who was lost to "civilization", also lived on the native reservation.
John describes to Bernard how in his childhood, he was shunned by the community for being white and having a promiscuous mother. To cope with his suffering, John reads Shakespeare ravenously. Bernard, knowing who John's father is, decides to bring John and Linda back to London.
Bernard gets permission from officials to bring Linda and John back to London. Meanwhile, Lenina is still in New Mexico, on a soma-induced trip. John breaks into her room, and considers touching her, but decides not to.
Bernard shows the Director Linda and John, promptly leading him to resign.
John becomes the center of attention, and Bernard, riding on his coattails, becomes popular and arrogant. John "the Savage" goes with Lenina to a "feelie", hoping that John would enjoy it and later have sex with her. Yet afterwards, he tells her she shouldn't see such "ignoble" films, and leaves her empty-handed.
When John does not attend an event that Bernard hosts, the guests lose courtesy for Bernard. The only friends that Bernard has left are John and Helmholtz. When the two meet, though, they become closer friends to each other than to Bernard, and constantly read Shakespeare. When John reads "Romeo and Juliet", he imagines himself as Romeo and Lenina as Juliet. Helmholtz laughs hysterically at the idea of people having parents, and of those parents forcing her to marry someone she didn't want.
John opens the door, expecting to see Helmholtz, but instead sees Lenina. Although the two of them are attracted to each other, and Lenina had taken half a gram of soma in advance to prepare herself, the vast difference in their personalities leads to a conflict. In the middle of it, John gets a phone call telling him that his mother is sick.
John goes to visit his mother, who is dying and semi-conscious in a hospital of an improperly happy atmosphere. Linda soon dies, and John panics.
Bernard and Helmholtz, hearing of John's actions, quickly rush to the hospital, where over 150 Deltas are waiting in line for their soma. John disrupts this process by throwing the soma away, with the help of Helmholtz (Bernard fearfully dithers between helping and not helping). In the end, the police get involved, and the three of them are arrested.
Instead of being sent to jail, though, the three end up in one of Mustapha Mond's rooms. Mond explains to them the stability of society, and that Bernard and Helmholtz, like other individualists, will be sent to live on islands.
With Bernard and Helmholtz out of the room, John and Mustapha have a learned discussion on religion and suffering. In short, John "[claims] the right to be unhappy."
Although John does not go to an island, he still isolates himself by living in a lighthouse. He also whips himself in an effort to cleanse himself. Unfortunately, people notice him, and soon treat him like an animal to be gawked at. Eventually, Lenina arrives, and the onlookers start an orgy. John, shamed by the sight of Lenina, hangs himself.