Brave New World | Study Guide

Aldous Huxley

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Brave New World | Chapter 6, Part 2 | Summary

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Summary

Bernard stops by the Director's office to get the administrator's signature on his New Mexico Reservation permit. The Hatchery official shows his dissatisfaction with Bernard until he sees his destination. Forgetting the rule about never speaking of the past, the Director relates a story about a visit he had taken to the same place two decades earlier. He, too, took along the Beta-Minus girl he was seeing. On a climbing expedition, the girl became lost. When she wasn't found after a two-day search, the authorities presumed she had died. The Director admits to feeling the forbidden emotions of sadness and loss and mentions he still dreams about the girl. Realizing his blunder, he lashes out at Bernard, berating the man for his nonconformity to Alpha expectations. The Director threatens to send Bernard to remote Iceland if he ever again hears that the psychologist does not show a "proper standard of infantile decorum." Instead of being upset at the scathing reprimand, Bernard feels emboldened. Later on he lies to Helmholtz about the incident, bragging that he told the Director to "go to the bottomless past" before proudly sauntering from the office.

Analysis

As soon as the Director began relating his anecdote, Bernard might have found a diplomatic way to halt the man's breach of the World State decree. He knows that a flustered superior who dislikes an employee is a threat to job security. Bernard's Alpha-Plus intelligence should have set off warning reminders that the negative reports about him had already kindled his boss's animosity and that he now should be sure to show his conditioned Alpha side. But Bernard feels confident that he can use this incident to counter any action the Director takes to remove him from his Conditioning Department position. Bernard understands his individualistic comments and dislike for group games is minor in comparison to the Director's lapse of judgment when he broke a World State rule.

The Director reminds Bernard that he is an Alpha with superior conditioning and that he doesn't have to show childish behavior but that Alphas have the "duty to be infantile, even against their inclination." This verbal irony increases the author's ridicule of a system that promotes adult behavior in certain areas but demands childish adherence to training in others. Two lines from Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" offer some insight to the Director's contradictory tirade, "Theirs not to reason why,/Theirs but to do or die."

Helmholtz understands the system far better than Bernard. That's why Bernard's boastful lies upset him. He realizes that Bernard's show of emotions and independence will never be tolerable. When these factors work in conjunction with Bernard's Alpha intelligence, they make him a threat to the World State's power.

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