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Brave New World | Chapter 13 | Summary

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Summary

Lenina's confusion over her feelings for John the Savage obsesses her. At work she is annoyed with Henry for badgering her about her mood and tells him to shut up. She can't remember if she inoculated an embryo with the sleeping sickness serum or not but sends it down the assembly line anyway. The reader is told this will have consequences years later. After work Lenina tells Fanny that John is the only man she wants. This idea is ludicrous to Fanny, and she attempts to convince Lenina to be with other men, too. When Lenina confesses that she cares only about John and that even soma doesn't help her forget him, her friend persuades her to seduce the man. Lenina visits John unannounced and demands to know how he feels about her. John says, "I love you more than anything in the world." He tries to explain that he wants to earn her love by accomplishing a heroic feat. Ignoring his explanations, she starts to seduce him. Totally appalled at her forward behavior, he yells, "Whore! Impudent strumpet!" and slaps her. While she is in the bathroom dressing, John gets a phone call that his mother is dying, and he rushes out of the apartment.

Analysis

Their intolerance of cultural differences and their inability to communicate openly and honestly with each other destroys any chance of a relationship for Lenina and John. She does not even attempt to understand the Malpais marriage concept, and John believes the promiscuity practiced in the World State is completely immoral. Both of them are victims of their upbringing. John has been raised with a belief system based on a combination of Christianity and Indian spirituality. Both promote a moral code that accepts the promise of marriage between one man and one woman until "death do they part." Lenina acknowledges only the "Everyone belongs to everyone else" concept drilled into her head through years of repetitive conditioning. Even though she is obsessed about being with John, she has no intention of their relationship being forever—just until she wants to be with another man. For now, she must have John. This shows that the Controllers have understood that the ability to feel must be prevented in their State because emotions like Lenina's cause confusion, sloppy work, mistakes, and finally, instability. Emotions threaten the effectiveness of the Solidarity Services and lead to public disruptions like the scene between the Director, Bernard, Linda, and John. They also promote individual thought and independence, as Bernard reveals in his criticisms and Helmholtz promotes in his poetry. Both can arouse subversive thinking and rebellion.

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