Brave New World

Brave New World Chapter 2  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the nurseries, the group finds nurses setting out big bowls filled with roses. The Director instructs them to set out brightly colored children’s books, also. Soon a group of eight-month-old Delta babies is wheeled into the nursery. Once the babies have happily crawled toward the bright objects, a lever is pressed, and explosions and shrill alarms go off. After that, a second lever is pressed, and the babies receive a mild electric shock from the floor. When the terrified babies are offered the appealing objects again, they refuse them.
This scene shows that, whatever the World State cannot accomplish biologically, it accomplishes psychologically—in this case, through a shocking example of Pavlovian conditioning, in which negative stimuli are paired with something desirable, causing the babies to reject the desirable thing.
Themes
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Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Director explains that Deltas are conditioned to hate nature and books, but to love complicated outdoor sports, so that they will consume (purchase) transportation and sporting goods.
World State citizens are conditioned to desire things that advance the interests of the State—not their own. The individual is not important. Happiness is less important that ensuring that people continue to consume goods, thus preserving industrialism and strengthening the State.
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
Next, the Director explains the origins of hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching). In the days when “Our Ford” was still alive, a Polish boy, Reuben, went to sleep one night while the radio was broadcasting in English. He woke up the next morning able to recite exactly what had been playing on the radio, even though he didn't understand it. This discovery occurred just 23 years after the first sale of a Ford Model-T car. The Director makes the sign of a T across his chest when he says "Our Ford."
The Director’s description of a scientific discovery is punctuated by a religious reverence for Henry Ford (hence the reverent “T” gesture that references the Ford Model-T). Ford is the "god" of World State society because he invented the production line that emphasized speed and specialization over the individual worker—a fitting deity for a society that mass-produces humans for the sake of further production and consumption.
Themes
Technology and Control Theme Icon
Industrialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
The Director explains that hypnopaedia was found to be ineffective for instilling scientific information, because it is just rote memorization. However, it is perfect for moral education, which the Director characterizes as inherently non-rational.
There is something sinister in the Director’s statement about moral education. He suggests that moral training can occur separately from one’s reasoning ability—that humans can be shaped at the World State’s will.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
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The Director leads the students into a dormitory of napping Betas. From speakers under every pillow, the same voice whispers an Elementary Class Consciousness lesson. The voice says it is good to be a Beta. Alphas have to work too hard, and the lower three castes are stupid and wear ugly colors. The message repeats, over and over, day after day, until the Betas believe it instinctively.
The government used the scientific discovery of hypnopaedia to produce a technology that helps them condition their citizens to enjoy the life that has been predetermined for them. The Beta children’s minds—like those of everyone else in the World State—are being formed by the suggestions of the State.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
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