Brave New World | Study Guide

Aldous Huxley

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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 classes ridicule him just like those in the top two castes do.

His only friend, Helmholtz Watson, a propaganda writer and professor at the College of Emotional Engineering, is a physically ideal Alpha male who is more intelligent than most men in this top caste. After Bernard picks up his friend on top of the Bureaux of Propaganda and the College of Emotional Engineering in his helicopter, they go to Bernard's room to visit. He too wants to air his individual thoughts.

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. As the narrator states, "What the two men shared 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 tenets. 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 the women he once enjoyed, his professional duties other than teaching, and even Marx's unpleasant self-absorption that makes him ill at ease.

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 lessening the time between desire and fulfillment and enduring thousands of hours of conditioning and group activities fortifies the World State motto: Community, Identity, Stability. In fact, these practices just separate these thinkers from those who adhere to the State's propaganda.

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