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Brave New World | Chapter 16 | Summary

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Summary

John the Savage, Bernard Marx, and Helmholtz Watson congregate in the Controller's office, waiting for a meeting with Mustapha Mond that will decide their fate. John paces the room, glancing at the shelves of books. When he finds a black fake-leather volume with an embossed golden T, My Life and Works by Our Ford, holding a position of honor on a table by a window, he leafs through it, but it does not interest him. Helmholtz sinks into a comfortable overstuffed armchair and accepts a cup of caffeine solution from the butler. Bernard creeps over to what he deems to be the most uncomfortable chair and slides into it. Mustapha Mond strolls in, shakes hands with the three men before him, and turns to John. He opens the conversation by stating ,"So you don't much like civilization, Mr. Savage." John honestly answers, "No." Their dialogue revolves around the World State's reasons for prohibiting anything that involves analysis, such as literature, works of art, and historic tomes. The Controller explains that due to their chemically chosen genetic makeup and conditioning, people wouldn't understand or appreciate anything from Before Ford, nor would they want to try.

When John professes his abhorrence for the masses of identical clones, Mond explains how each caste fulfills a need that keeps the World State stable. He tells his guests that he had once been a scientist and wanted to study the possibilities of pure science. When the leaders objected to his nonconformity, he chose the Controller track instead of continuing his research and analysis on an island. Bernard becomes unglued at the realization that he is to be banished to an island, and he is taken from the room and dosed with soma. Helmholtz accepts the chance to live among like-minded people who are allowed to express themselves freely and chooses to go to the Falklands.

Analysis

Huxley uses this falling action chapter to reveal numerous premises that add depth to his satire. Instead of people being taught to understand historic and artistic artifacts from the times in which they occurred or were created, the artifacts are simply forbidden. Not wanting to deal with explaining how these events and works represent the values and mores of people and their cultures and how all people can learn from them, the leaders choose to erase them from the population. Mond states that they do this because the castes don't have the capabilities to understand the pre-Ford times, and this could cause them anxiety since change can breed fear. In reality the leaders dread the change that would occur if people were allowed access to the past. Another ironic point occurs when Mond agrees with John the Savage that old can be beautiful, yet the leaders don't want their people to be "attracted to old things." He admits beauty can exist in age, but this obviously doesn't carry over to people. Since age is said to produce wisdom, the leaders don't trust the knowledge an aged population would share if they were allowed to exist and not be vilified. The Controller's comment regarding scientific discovery as an enemy of the state creates a major satiric point. If, in the pre-Ford days, Henry Ford had been forbidden from exploring the engineering possibilities of automation and mass production, the World State would never have occurred.

The author also adds depth to the extended bottle metaphor woven through their culture. When John questions the need for the caste system, Mond explains how the Hatchery process does not allow for feelings of inferiority or desires for advancement. People are "foredoomed" to their lot in life. "Even after decanting, he's still in a bottle, an invisible bottle of infantile and embryonic fixations," Mond says.

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