Brave New World

Brave New World Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Helmholtz and Bernard, on the way to their island exile, stop by the Savage’s apartment to say goodbye to him. Bernard apologizes for his behavior yesterday and says that Helmholtz has been very good to him. The three men feel fond of one another, and happy. The Savage explains that he asked Mond if he could accompany his friends to the island, but since Mond refused, he is leaving, too, in search of a place where he can be alone.
The three friends, reconciled, share an affectionate farewell. Bernard appears to be somewhat chastened, after his cowardly groveling, and calmly accepts his fate. The Savage’s fate will be quite different, however. As an outsider both to the World State and to the community of his upbringing, he is the novel’s ultimate individual and will take his final stand as such.
Themes
Individuality Theme Icon
Later, the Savage establishes a hermitage in an old lighthouse in a rural part of England. Here he commits himself to sleepless nights and painful physical exertions, longing to purify himself and to be good. He brings a few supplies, determined to grow a garden and become self-sufficient. When, while whittling a bow and arrow, he catches himself singing happily—an offense to the memory of his perceived unkindness to Linda—he whips himself. When a truck full of Deltas drives by, they watch in wonder as the Savage bleeds, vomits, and starts hitting himself again.
While the Savage’s extreme self-discipline is difficult to understand, it’s consistent with his earlier insistence to Mustapha Mond that, in order to have goodness, beauty, and all the rest, one must also be willing to endure inconvenience, suffering, and unhappiness. Indeed, for a man determined to resist a totalitarian government that forces its citizens to be happy, perhaps unhappiness is the only freedom.
Themes
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Tipped off by the Delta witnesses, reporters soon descend on the Savage’s hermitage. When a radio reporter tries to interview the Savage about his ascetic practices, the Savage rewards him with Zuni curses and a fierce kick. But this doesn’t deter a wave of additional journalists and helicopters. The Savage manages to keep them at bay with his bow and arrow.
World State citizens are attracted to John’s bizarre lifestyle. To them, it’s a mere curiosity without any inherent meaning. For John, the World State’s intrusion is an offense to hard-won freedom.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
At one point, resting, John has a vivid, arousing daydream of Lenina. He rushes from the lighthouse and flings himself into the juniper bushes, trying to think of Linda’s death instead, but he can’t get Lenina out of his mind. He starts whipping himself frantically, unconsciously wishing he were flogging Lenina herself. Unbeknownst to him, Darwin Bonaparte, a feely photographer, is watching and recording this. Twelve days later, a feely called The Savage of Surrey is released across Europe, causing a sensation.
John strives to purify himself from his sexual desires, but he harbors anger and disgust toward Lenina—and what she stands for as a promiscuous, pleasure-seeking World State citizen—as well. His efforts don’t remain private, however. Citizens of the World State relentlessly pursue the satisfaction of their desires, in this case their sordid curiosity about this incomprehensible savage.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
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One day, as the Savage is digging in his garden, a stream of hundreds of helicopters roars overhead. When the Savage asks what the crowds want with him, they start chanting, demanding to see “the whipping stunt.” Soon, one helicopter lands within a few feet of the Savage, and a young woman gets out. She looks distressed and imploring, trying to speak to the Savage. However, he rushes at her, calling her “strumpet” and whipping both her and himself. Fascinated, the crowds, conditioned to act in unity, begin an “orgy-porgy” dance.
The World State citizens have no capacity to understand the depth of John’s emotions, much less his motivations; to their incomprehension, the self-flagellation can be no more than a “stunt.” The woman who gets out of the helicopter is implied to be Lenina, and her unexpected appearance unleashes John’s rage at his own fleshly desires and at Lenina’s (and presumably the State’s encouragement thereof). World State citizens, unable to make sense of such pain and anguish otherwise, have been trained to release emotion in just one way: Solidarity Service orgies.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
The next morning, the Savage awakes and remembers everything. That evening, more helicopters arrive in search of the Savage. When people look inside the lighthouse, they see John’s feet through an archway: he has hung himself.
For John, participating in the orgy means submitting to the slavery of happiness. He's lost his battle with the World State, and with his own sin, so he kills himself. Another individual has been sacrificed to World State stability.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon