Brave New World | Study Guide

Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World | Chapter 6, Part 1 | Summary

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Summary

As the chapter begins, Lenina is questioning traveling to New Mexico with Bernard because of his strangeness. He doesn't like swimming at the Toquay Country Club or playing a round of Electro-Magnetic Golf at St. Andrews because the activities are public and involve crowds. Lenina hates the idea of walking and talking in isolated areas. "Talking? But what about?" she asks. Finally she convinces Bernard to fly to Amsterdam for a women's wrestling match. On the return trip, he hovers over the ocean, frightening Lenina. She hates the huge empty expanses of the rolling sea and the vast storm-clouded sky. Bernard loves the loneliness of both areas as much as he hates being a "cell in a social body." Lenina feels free in the State's prescribed happiness, and he considers conditioning a prison. They quarrel about how he likes reality, even if he is unhappy, the false soma-induced happiness, and how he wishes they had not given into their impulses but acted like adults and waited for true passion to envelop them before they slept together.

Analysis

Lenina is totally obedient to the World State's practice of conditioning. This mind control does not work so well with Bernard because he is an expert psychologist. His work entails evaluating the training to discern the similarities and differences between the successes and failures. He resents being programmed to accept only the World State's ideologies and not being permitted to think for himself. He wants to be free to express the emotions that consume him instead of hiding them. Lenina's conditioned shallowness doesn't even allow her to understand what Bernard means when he asks her, "Wouldn't you like to be free to be happy in your own way; not in everybody else's way?"

Bernard understands that conditioning keeps people emotionally acting like children. Intellectually, Alphas—and to a lesser extent Betas—can understand and analyze information so they can complete their jobs. The other castes are predetermined to know only the basics needed to do their work. Thinking alone isn't an enemy of the state, but thinking plus emotions can be deadly to a totalitarian government. Every other Thursday, Bernard witnesses the power of suggestion during the Solidarity Service. Instead of taming his inner demons to accept the groupthink, these meetings just fuel his desire to feel passion. He is tired of suppressing his thoughts.

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