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Symbols

Kristen Over, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, explains the symbols in Aldous Huxley's book Brave New World.

Brave New World | Symbols

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The Letter T

The letter T represents the Model T Ford, the first car Henry Ford mass produced. People trace this sign when they are speaking of the car manufacturer who developed automated production through the assembly line. To them it shows Ford's contribution to the industrial field. They use the T to show their devotion to the power of mass production, as Christians make the sign of the Cross to honor Jesus's sacrifice.

Henry Ford

The founders of the World State based their civilization on this industrialist's development of mass production. After the Nine Years' War, they realized people wanted stability and happiness. They designed their society around the continuous cycle of production–consumerism–stability. Ford's influence on them is so great that they use his name in the same way that people might use names for God: "Ford, Ford, Ford" and "Oh my Ford" are examples. They refer to him as his Fordship and hold periodic Ford Day celebrations. With his book Huxley is satirizing the deification of Ford and all he stood for, as well as some of his comments such as "History is bunk," which Mustapha Mond mentions to the students in Chapter 3. Of course the Controller wants the boys to agree with that adage because he doesn't want questions about the past. Huxley shows Mond using this quote to suppress any curiosity about life before Ford. The author shows that Ford made enormous advances with the assembly line and this is what they celebrate, given their limitations. However, he also addresses the down sides of mass production, such as materialism and overconsumption. These superficialities are encouraged through conditioning lines such as, "Ending is better than mending," and "I love new clothes, I love new clothes, I love new clothes."

Decanters

These vessels, large enough to provide for an egg to develop to infancy, represent the population of the World State. In Chapter 1 they are depicted as whizzing along an assembly line conveyor belt as workers ensure that they are decanted as babies designed to their caste's requirements and inoculated against every known disease.

Soma

This hallucinogenic narcotic represents the religion of the people as they look to it for solace from any stress, hurdle, or sadness they may feel. It comes in many forms, such as pills, pacifiers, and a vapor, the purpose of which is to lull the people into a state of chemically controlled happiness. When characters begin to feel upset, they automatically reach for soma or desperately long for it, as Lenina does while experiencing the "horrors of Malpais." Characters even use soma to escape from minor discomforts like boredom, as Bernard and Lenina do while visiting with the Warden. Characters suggest soma to others when they see them becoming upset, or they comment about a person's sunny disposition (for example, Benito's good-naturedness) in terms of that person not appearing to need the drug.

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