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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

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Plot Summary

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, provides an in-depth plot summary of Aldous Huxley's book Brave New World.

Brave New World | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel, Brave New World, begins in the year A.F. (After Ford) 632, or 632 years after the first Model T car was produced in 1908—making it the year 2540. The setting is the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, an unassuming gray building where all human life originates. The Director launches a tour group of adolescent Alpha males in the Fertilizing Room. Henry Foster, a genetic engineer, explains how the two highest castes—Alpha and Beta—are derived from single eggs. Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon ova go through the Bokanovsky Process, where cloning occurs, and Podsnap's Technique to speed up egg maturation. This produces 11,000 males and females, identical to their caste's specifications, within two years.

From there the students move through the assembly line process that produces "fully socialized infants." These include the Bottling Room, the Social Predestination Room, the Embryo Store, and the Decanting Room. Here physically and intellectually designed and conditioned babies are removed from the containers to start life as caste-appropriate infants. The tour encounters Lenina Crowne, who is inoculating fetuses against typhoid and sleeping sickness.

In the conditioning rooms the Director explains the theory and process of hypnopaedia, or sleep-learning. From infancy people are conditioned to adopt specific principles acceptable to the World State such as consuming mass-produced products, practicing promiscuity, and joining group activities. Through hypnopaedia people also are taught to reject solitude and to discriminate among the castes.

Mustapha Mond, the Controller of the Western Europe State and the story's antagonist, lectures the young men on why history, religion, and literature lessons are forbidden. He reminds them that before their After Ford (A.F.) world, people's lives were miserable. The leaders know people basically want to be happy and that the keys to this are instant gratification, group sports activities, cabarets, and promiscuity. Old age with its ugliness has been abolished, and the drug soma is sanctioned for use so people can eliminate any hint of negativity.

The author parallels the Controller's lecture by revealing conversations between Lenina Crowne and Fanny Crowne that mirror his topics. These ideas are further developed with the discussions between Henry Foster and the Assistant Predestinator. Bernard Marx overhears each conversation and hates how both conversations objectify women. That evening, Bernard and his friend Helmholtz Watson, a propaganda expert, share their unhappiness with the World State's repression of individualism.

Bernard Marx prepares for the trip to the New Mexico Indian Reservation, where he is taking Lenina, by visiting the Director for his signed permit. The men dislike and distrust each other, and each considers ways to ruin the other. Once Bernard and Lenina arrive at the pueblo village, Lenina is overwrought by the filth, the ugly old people, and the blood of the Corn Dance, especially since she has forgotten her soma. The only bright spot is the presence of the physically attractive John the Savage. Linda, a Beta lost in the Reservation's mountains 20 years earlier, is John's mother. She mentions that the Director is her son's father. Knowing that the Director's forbidden role in Linda's natural pregnancy will destroy his enemy, Bernard returns to London with Linda and John.

The Director's career is ruined. Humiliated, he rushes out of the Social Predestination Room. Immediately after his departure, he resigns and fades into the shadows of the London World State, never to be seen or heard from again—anywhere. As John's guardian, Bernard experiences a surge in popularity that plummets when his charge refuses to attend any more parties. John is repulsed by the scores of identical people and their robotic behavior. Lenina's sexual advances and promiscuity violate his strict principles of marriage and sexual monogamy. Grief-stricken when Linda dies, John starts a riot over soma. The Controller calls Bernard, Helmholtz, and John to his office. John and Mond discuss the repression of any past and present ideologies and the existence of a society that destroys individuality and independence. Bernard and Helmholtz are exiled to the Falkland Islands, where they will be free to express their uniqueness. John chooses a life of solitude in a lighthouse. His seclusion allows him to purify himself so he can move on with his life. People hound him for his odd ways, though, and after a film of him flagellating himself appears at the Feelies, helicopters full of thrill-seekers, one with Lenina and Henry, converge on John's safe place. He attacks Lenina with his "whip of small cords," and she turns to run but trips. In a frenzy the crowd surges toward John, "that magnetic center of attention." It is not clear if the horde separates John from Lenina, saving her from John's whip or not, but he certainly does continue to beat himself as he cries, "Kill it, kill it." The author mentions that an orgy-filled night of soma and sex did continue until the helicopters flew away and John passed out. When he wakes up and remembers the night, he is ashamed of his actions. John cannot forgive himself for his debauchery, and commits suicide. Whether his "Oh, my God" cries of shame are for having sex with Lenina after he struck her with his whip and before she returns to London, or whether he kills her, that answer dies with him. What is known is that the only death mentioned at the end of the story is John's suicide.

Brave New World Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action


1 The Director explains genetic design and conditioning.

Rising Action

2 The Director outlines the five castes' defining qualities.

3 Characters show obedience to hypnopaedic messages.

4 Mustapha Mond lectures about major World State principles.

5 Henry and Lenina enjoy golfing, soma, and a cabaret.

6 Bernard attends the Solidarity Service deifying Henry Ford.

7 Bernard and Helmholtz are upset by the repression of ideas.

8 Bernard and Lenina visit the New Mexico Reservation.

9 Linda's and John's presence destroys the Director's career.

10 John is aghast by cloning, immorality, oppression, and soma.


11 John starts a riot over caste slavery and soma sanctioning.

Falling Action

12 Mustapha and John debate history, literature, and religion.

13 Bernard and Helmholtz are exiled to the Falkland Islands.

14 John chooses solitude to purify his soul and find a purpose.


15 Since he can't adapt to either world, John kills himself.

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