Brave New World | Study Guide

Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World | Chapter 3 | Summary

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Summary

The students' tour of the Hatchery continues as the Director guides the Alpha males through the grounds. They watch children involved in erotic play and the game Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. The Director's impromptu history lesson regarding the acceptance of sexual play among little children is interrupted by Mustapha Mond, the Controller of Western Europe. Mond continues the history lesson by describing social life in the pre-Ford times. He contrasts that existence with life in their society, praising the World State's reasoning that a life devoid of struggle is more practical and painless. He explains that after the Nine Years' War, when the World States' leaders offered consumer-driven happiness along with soma and chemicals that abolish old age, people willingly accepted them as their due for working to support their culture.

The author contrasts Mond's history lesson with the conversation between Lenina Crowne and Fanny Crowne, and the one between Henry Foster and the Assistant Predestinator that Bernard Marx hears. All of the conversations revolve around state-sanctioned sexual practices and the diverse perspectives the women and men share as well as Bernard's disgust with how the men objectify women. Lenina mentions that Bernard has asked her to visit the Savage Reservation and that she finds him interesting. Fanny is appalled because Bernard is smaller than the typical Alpha male, has a sour personality, and seems unhappy with adhering to the group mentality. Meanwhile the men talk about going to the Feelies that night—movies that offer a sensory explosion with their realistic sight, smell, and touch experiences. Intermingled with these conversations are conditioning clichés that promote consumerism such as "Ending is better than mending" and "I love new clothes, I love new clothes, I love new clothes."

Analysis

The author's use of multiple discussions shows contrasting perspectives of the pre-Nine Years' War viviparous natural childbirth culture and the oviparous test-tube culture offered by the World State. Huxley's objects of satire in the two preceding chapters—scientific theories offered as cure-alls, governments that offer utopian existences, and people who too willingly hand over personal control of their choices for promises of struggle-free lives—are clarified in Chapter 3. He uses the alternating dialogues to ridicule people who choose an easy life over independence and to mock tyrannical political forces that offer the desired solutions for a price.

Mustapha Mond's descriptions of how romance-based sex leads to the emotional extremes of parenthood that traps families in unfulfilling jobs and lives of squalor is so blatantly abhorrent that the young students listening to him readily accept government-sanctioned promiscuity. Huxley includes Lenina's boredom with promiscuity and Fanny's unrest about her friend's exclusivity with Henry to prove that science has yet to find a way to eradicate all human emotion as a counterpoint to Mond's monologue. The leaders fear that exclusive relationships could lead to rebellion against the World State and undercut the conditioning message that "everyone belongs to everyone else." When one of the students admits to his sadness over a girl who led him on for weeks, Mond emphasizes that rejection due to unmet desire leads to misery and a lack of productivity, and this creates instability.

Mond is clever enough to sidestep his mention of museums, the pyramids, the suppression of books, and Shakespeare—all forbidden topics—by making the students feel that their scientific-based education is more advantageous to them than lessons rooted in knowledge of the past. This is another way Huxley satirically addresses the point that people are too willing to let others make the hard choices for them.

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