Brave New World Summary - A high brow book to say the least but worth the read! Written in 1932 but set in 2540 where the world is very different - genetic engineering is the tip of the iceberg!
Brave New World Summary
What makes this such an interesting read, is how accurate Huxley has been at predicting the development of reproductive engineering and beyond.
Granted, the book is extreme and thank goodness not the reality we find ourselves in today. But, you could imagine how it could progress as far as Huxley's imagination!
The story is fairly complex but interesting and readable. I wouldn't call it a page turner, but if you want to read a hard hitting book with plenty of discussion areas, then this is a great choice for book club - Just put something lighter as your next book!
Hope you find the Brave New World Summary useful.
Brave New World Summary
An Introduction to The World State (Brave New World)
The story starts in London, the year is 2540 and we slowly start to learn about this Brave New World:
Natural reproduction no longer happens, noone has a family - everyone is an individual grown in a test tube.
There are 5 types of embryos that are "manufactured" with only one
(Alpha plus) being allowed to grow without further interference or
contamination. All the others are manipulated (alcohol added for
example) to ensure more sub-servant individuals who won't mind doing
more menial tasks. It means there is no competition amongst your peers
or ambition to try and improve - you are bread for the type of job you
Kids are conditioned during sleep times (a soft voice whispering messages in their ear) as to what to think of their "World State," to ensure that there is no grieving for death and to ensure emotions are kept in check.
The world is also capped at 2 billion people making sure there is enough goods and services for everyone and commercialisation is king - it's the bedrock of society. You would never mend or repair anything in this brave new world - you must buy something new for the sake of the economy.
No-one spends time alone - it's considered a total waste of time.
Most die at aged 60 in good health and there is no fear or mourning surrounding any death, as everyone is conditioned from an early age.
Sex is encouraged from a very early age as it is seen as a social activity and not as a means to reproduce. There is no relationships as such, everyone belongs to everyone else so you are free to sleep with whoever you like.
The drug Soma is given to everyone as a way of "going on holiday" or to experience pleasures, without leaving the brave new world.
The author makes out that this is a truly wonderful place to live - no violence, always feeling happy, work that you enjoy without jealousy or constantly striving for something more.
The Trip to the Reserve.
Whilst the brave new world or World State seems to be across the world, there are pockets where the world is still "savage", usually in remote areas. Here older customs and religious traditions are upheld.
We are introduced to some of the main characters:
Lenina Crowne - Happy and content in the World State (from the Beta Caste)
Bernard Marx - Whilst he is an Alpha plus (the brightest of all castes) he is a bit
shorter than everyone else. This makes him have an inferiority complex.
There are doubts creeping in about how good this Brave New World
actually is. For example he dislikes using Soma, he would rather be himself.
They decide to go to a reserve together in Mexico where they witness some religious ceremonies (including whipping) by some local "savages" (similar to traditional Indians). Soon they meet Linda and her son John.
Linda is originally from the World State but she was accidentally separated from her group years ago and ended up stuck on the reserve. She also ended up getting pregnant (some women are still used to breed the embryos) and having the child naturally on the reserve (John).
John has grown up reading Shakespeare and as such has taken his values from the works of Shakespeare. Both Linda and John have been outcasts in the reserve and so have never felt like they fitted in.
It turns out that Bernard's boss, the director is the father.
Linda is desperate to return to the Brave new World and John is interested in experiencing it, given he has heard so much about it from his mother.
This is lucky for Bernard as the Director is about to sack him for his outspoken behaviour. But when Bernard reveals John and the truth about his ancestory, it is the Director who must resign out of embarrassment.
Back In The World State
John is a big hit in London and suddenly Bernard is invited to lots of parties, but John soon gets bored and starts to strongly dislike this World State - His mother dies in hospital but John is unable to say goodye properly as she is drugged up with Soma and in her own little world (literally.) The hospital staff have no idea how to cope with John and his grief - there is never any need for grieving in the World State.
Bernard is quickly dropped from the party list when John is no longer there to accompany him. John starts a riot as he tries to encourage people not to take their Soma and be themselves.
Lenina makes a pass at John but he rebukes her and she is very offended.
John decides eventually to escape and takes himself off to a lighthouse. He feels the need to cleanse himself by whipping himself (a custom from the reserve) but it is caught on camera and causes an uproar with everyone coming to look at him. He does it again and manages to cause a mass orgy and ends up taking Soma. He is so upset with himself that he commits suicide and hangs himself, conflicted by the world he finds himself in, so against the values that he has learned through Shakespeare, and an outcast again.
Hope you found this Brave New World Summary useful for your book club. For questions, themes and what our book club thought of this book go to Brave New World Analysis
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