Brave New World

Brave New World Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
John rushes into the Park Lane Hospital for the Dying, where Linda is staying. The nurse matter-of-factly says there's no hope of recovery, as Linda is in a Galloping Senility ward. She explains that the hospital tries to create the most pleasurable atmosphere possible for dying patients. When John says that Linda is his mother, the nurse blushes.
The nurse is conditioned to speak about death as if it's nothing, yet the word "mother" fills her with embarrassment—once again showing the inverted values of the World State.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Linda is so drugged on soma she barely notices John. As John weeps at his mother’s bedside, the nurse leads a large group of chattering, eight-year-old Bokanovsky twins into the room. They stare at Linda in morbid fascination and make nasty comments about her ugliness. John, furious, pushes them away. The nurse reprimands John for disrupting the children's death-conditioning.
The undignified interruption by the children at Linda’s deathbed exemplifies how, in World State society, the needs of the community outweigh the rights or cares of the individual. John is viewed as the troublemaker for being excessively touchy about his mother’s dignity while the critical work of conditioning is taking place.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
John returns his attention to Linda, who, in her stupor, believes he's Popé. This is too much for John: he shakes his mother, who stops breathing, and, with a look of terror, dies. John, blaming himself, falls to his knees and begins to sob. To stop this display of sadness from harming the children's conditioning, the frazzled nurse gives all the children chocolate éclairs, while warning John in a low voice to behave decently.
Only stability is sacred in World State society. Conditioning makes World State citizens avoid intense emotions and connections for stability’s sake, meaning that the nurse has probably never witnessed a deathbed scene like this before, and her first concern is naturally for the children, not the dying and bereaved. Meanwhile, for all her years of conditioning, Linda’s fear in the face of death suggests that even conditioning can’t efface a terror of the unknown.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Industrialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Sobbing, John repeats, "God, God, God..." Chocolate-smeared twins stare at him in wonderment, then nonchalantly ask if Linda is dead. John pushes the children aside and leaves the hospital.
The "God" to whom John appeals doesn't exist in the World State, and the Bokanovsky twins don't recognize the word—it’s much stranger to them than Linda’s corpse, demonstrating the power of conditioning even at this early stage. In his grief, John is truly alone in society.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
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