Brave New World | Study Guide

Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World | Chapter 5, Part 2 | Summary

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Summary

Part 2 reveals the flip side to the World State's "Everybody's happy now" philosophy. Bernard Marx spends his evening at his twice monthly Solidarity Service. He rushes through the massive Fordson Community Singery to his assigned room and sinks into a seat, relieved that he is not the last member to arrive. He notes the other members: Morgana Rothschild, an unattractive woman with heavy, black eyebrows; the attractive Fifi Bradlaugh; Joanna Diesel; Clara Deterding; and the last lady to arrive, Saojini Engels, who slides into a seat between Jim Bokanovsky and Herbert Bakunin right before the president of the group starts the meeting by making the T sign across his stomach.

The music leads off with the synthetically produced Solidarity Hymn, followed by the president's second T sign. The attendees pass around soma tablets and a cup full of soma-laced strawberry ice cream. They chant stock phrases like "I drink to my annihilation" and "I drink to the Greater Being." As they sing the Second Solidarity Hymn, the soma starts to take effect so they echo the recorded voice, intoning "Oh, Ford, Ford, Ford" and then "Listen! The feet of the Greater Being." Each person jumps up and shouts "I hear him," while cymbals clash and horns blare. They dance around the room to the "Orgy-Porgy" tune. Bernard mirrors their dancing and shouting, although he is faking his zeal. He agrees with everyone's enthusiastic praise for this ceremony that unites them into one being instead of 12 people, even though he feels more alienated than before the meeting began.

Analysis

Bernard hurries to the Solidarity Service, even though he hates group activities, because he doesn't want his tardiness to bring more notice and criticism for his well-known dislike of group activities. Playing the part expected of all of the group members, he drinks from the cup even though he hates the false euphoria of soma. He also sings and dances, even shouting out and pretending that he hears the "footsteps of the Greater Being" with everyone caught up in the mental hysteria caused by the power of suggestion.

The whole service demonstrates concretely how the people idolize Henry Ford and why this inventor of mass production is one of the book's main symbols. The building is named after him, the Singery's clock is called Big Henry—an ironic reference to London's Big Ben clock—and they use his name for exclamations, like "Oh, Ford!" The passing of the soma and the cup of ice cream is similar to the communion rite held in many Christian religious services, and the sign of the T in honor of the first Model T car imitates how Christians make the sign of the cross. Music and songs form the bulk of the service as with many of the world's religious ceremonies, although Huxley replaces the joyfulness most congregations experience with exaggerated group hysteria. The State carefully orchestrates these meetings so they arouse this emotional madness. The leaders know the shared emotions unify people by their mutual beliefs. Bernard isn't emotionally drawn into the hysteria and leaves feeling more alienated than he did before the meeting.

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