Brave New World | Study Guide

Aldous Huxley

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Chapter 4, Part 2

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 4, Part 2 of Aldous Huxley's book Brave New World.

Brave New World | Chapter 4, Part 2 | Summary

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Summary

Bernard Marx is unhappy with Benito Hoover, Lenina, and his life in general. Lenina angers him with her friendly public greeting because she runs off to meet Henry afterward. Benito means well by suggesting that Bernard should take some soma to lighten his mood, but Bernard dislikes numbing his feelings with the drug.

As a hypnopaedia expert, he knows the Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons have been conditioned to associate physical size with superiority. Since he is the same height as a Gamma male, he suspects that people in the lower three castes ridicule him just like those in the top two castes do.

Bernard goes to meet his only friend, Helmholtz Watson, a propaganda writer and professor at the College of Emotional Engineering. Watson is a physically ideal Alpha male who is more intelligent than most men in this top caste. Bernard arrives at the Bureaux of Propaganda to pick up Watson. When Watson comes out, "three charming girls" approach him, urging him to join them for a picnic. Frustrated, Watson rejects them and slams the helicopter door in their face.

They arrive at Bernard's room to visit, where Watson explains how it sometimes feels like he has something important to say, "only I don't know what it is," he says. Bernard suddenly panics when he thinks someone is at the door, but nobody is there. The section ends with Watson looking at Bernard with pity, wishing his friend had more pride.

Analysis

The narrator uses his omniscience to reveal Bernard Marx's and Helmholtz Watson's innermost thoughts about themselves and the people they encounter. Marx's lack of an Alpha male physique and Watson's perfect one make their friendship unexpected considering Marx's inferiority complex about his physique. "What the two men shared," explains the narrator, "was the knowledge that they were individuals."

Marx's mistrust of everyone, his paranoia, and his independent thinking cause him to alienate himself from others, only increasing his isolation and making him feel even more alone.

Although Watson also experiences a separation from others, he is not angry or bitter, just mentally muddled. A superior wordsmith, he knows the propaganda he writes demonstrates the nuances of hypnopaedia and expertly addresses the World State's beliefs. Still, he senses he has something more important he must share in his writing and teaching, but he cannot define what it is. Until he can, he has started to isolate himself from outside distractions, like women.

Since these men are representative of the novel's theme of alienation from society, they are imperfections in the World State's finely structured tapestry. Neither of them accepts the theory that enduring thousands of hours of conditioning and group activities fortifies the World State motto: Community, Identity, Stability. In fact, these practices just separate individual thinkers from those who adhere to the State's propaganda.

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