Brave New World

Brave New World Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Outside in a picturesque garden, hundreds of naked boys and girls play. The group watches some children playing a complicated game called Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy. With wonder, the Director recalls that, in Ford’s day, games were played with minimal equipment, like balls and sticks, and didn’t increase consumption.
The superficial beauty of the garden and the children’s innocence contrast with the State’s manipulation. In this case, the children’s play is being controlled in order to increase consumption.
Themes
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Industrialism and Consumption Theme Icon
The Director points out a "charming" boy and girl of about seven or eight, who are playing a rudimentary sex game. Another little boy is taken to see a psychologist when he resists such “play.” The Director mentions the distant past, when it was considered immoral for children to engage in erotic play, and when sexual activity was generally limited to adulthood. Upon hearing this, the students are aghast.
From an early age, the children are being taught to believe that promiscuity, which helps keep the World State productive and stable, is normal. Although the reader will likely recognize this sexualization of children as extremely disturbing, in the eyes of the World State, any child who resists sexual play is considered to be psychologically troubled or abnormal.
Themes
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Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Suddenly, a man on the outskirts of the group speaks up, repeating that such old-fashioned policies were terrible. The Director eagerly introduces “his fordship,” Mustapha Mond, one of the State’s 10 World Controllers.
Mond's emphatic words indicate that World State citizens think of their practices as rational and good, a reversal of the backwardness of the distant past. State leaders are honored with a title associating them with Ford, further emphasizing this society’s reverence for industrialization.
Themes
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Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
The students are awed that Mustapha Mond is speaking to them. The Director becomes nervous when Mond indicates that he’s going to speak to them about history, but Mond wryly promises not to corrupt the students. He tells them about the old days, when people had “viviparous” (birth-giving) mothers who nursed them (a thought that makes the students shudder with disgust), and families lived together in squalid, cramped homes. Our Ford—or, rather, “Our Freud”—had pointed out the dangers of the family and the narrowness of monogamous romance. These things undermine all-important stability, which the World State system creates by eliminating the need for complicated emotions.
The World State arose from a conscious choice to give up all the best things about humanity in order to be rid of the worst things. The result is a dystopian world in which “natural” things like childbirth, families, and the emotions of romance are regarded as obscene and unnatural. The previous world existed in a far distant past, as indicated by the confusion of “Ford” and “Freud,” as if these two very different men were the same person. Additionally, this conflation of the two further blurs the line between industrial production (the work of Ford) and sexual reproduction (on which many of Freud’s theories were focused). It’s clear that the World State’s most important value is stability—even at the cost of avoiding deep feelings and thus dehumanizing its population.
Themes
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Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Industrialism and Consumption Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Meanwhile, the day shift has ended. In the changing room, Lenina Crowne talks with her friend, Fanny, about their respective plans for the evening. Fanny has a locker full of intravenal drugs—Pregnancy Substitute—since she’s been feeling out of sorts lately. Lenina has been “having” Henry Foster for about four months now. Fanny scolds her for not dating other men—it’s bad form, she says. Lenina agrees that she ought to make the effort to be a little more promiscuous, so she decides to accept Bernard Marx’s offer to go on vacation together, although she agrees that Bernard—who’s rumored not to like conventional sports—is a bit odd.
Switching back and forth between the lecture in the garden and the scenes in the changing rooms allows a sense of immersion in World State society. The shift to the changing rooms from the garden also allows a glimpse of conditioning in action. Both women take for granted that promiscuity is not only natural, but moral. Fanny takes a cocktail of drugs, simulating a natural state, in order to cope with mild unhappiness, which again showcases the population’s prioritization of stability and numbness over genuine emotions.
Themes
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The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
On their way to the changing rooms, Henry Foster and the Assistant Director of Predestination are also discussing their plans for the night, while pointedly ignoring Bernard Marx. When Bernard hears the two men talking about “having” Lenina Crowne, he is furious, hating the way they describe Lenina as if she’s a piece of meat. The others notice Bernard’s glum expression and offer him some soma, which he angrily refuses.
Bernard is the first example of a true individual in the World State. Jarringly, after Mond’s lecture and the women’s conventionality, he disagrees with World State "morality." In fact, he actively resists it—a hint of what’s to come later. Like Fanny, the other men assume that unhappiness should be remedied chemically. This introduces the presence of soma in the story, a drug that the World State’s population depends upon to numb themselves into a state of simulated happiness.
Themes
Dystopia and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Technology and Control Theme Icon
The Cost of Happiness Theme Icon
Individuality Theme Icon