Brave New World Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

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Analysis & Themes

Lenina gets into an elevator to go to the roof. She spots Bernard standing behind her former lover Benito Hoover. She accepts Bernard's invitation to go to the Savage Reservation, but Bernard asks if they can talk about it in private. Lenina finds this request odd.
Bernard wants privacy because he's an individual. Lenina doesn't understand his request because she's been conditioned to not be an individual.
The Epsilon elevator operator joyfully says, "Roof!" and opens the door. Lenina runs off for her date with Henry Foster.
The operator and Lenina are just living out their conditioning.
Benito Hoover comes up to Bernard and remarks how pretty and "pneumatic" Lenina is. He offers the gloomy Bernard some soma. Bernard walks off in a huff. Benito wonders if it's true that alcohol was accidentally put into Bernard's blood-surrogate.
Benito is also just living according to his conditioning. Bernard isn't, and in a society where everyone is he same, Bernard's differences stand out.
Bernard is ashamed of his behavior. Because of his small size he feels like an outsider, which makes him act like an outsider, which makes him more of an outsider.
Bernard's feeling of inferiority to other Alphas because of his small size makes him aware of himself, makes him an individual.
Bernard flies off to see his friend Helmholtz Watson. Helmholtz is the perfect Alpha-plus. He's stellar at his job, desired by women, and always welcome everywhere. But he's too perfect. Everything comes so easily to him that he finds himself wanting more.
Helmholtz is an individual for the opposite reason from Bernard: Helmholtz is superior, and so he is bored. The lack of challenge and boredom make him aware of himself.
Helmholtz and Bernard discuss the dilemma of their individuality (though Bernard doesn't mention his jealousy of Helmholtz's success with women). Helmholtz says that though he's good at writing propaganda, he has the feeling that he could write something more piercing, more powerful. Bernard motions for silence. He thinks someone is listening at the door. No one is. Helmholtz wishes Bernard had a little more self-respect.
Bernard's individuality was forced upon him by his small size, while Helmholtz came to his through his own initiative and desire. In a sense, Bernard is an individual because of his loneliness and sadness, while Helmholtz is an individual because he senses his own self-worth.