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 together, but Bernard, uncomfortable, asks if they can talk about this in private. Lenina finds this request odd, as if she’s said something indecent. The Epsilon elevator operator joyfully says, "Roof!" and opens the door. Lenina runs off for her date with Henry Foster.
Bernard finds it uncomfortable to discuss an intimate date in public, further demonstrating his nonconformity with the World State’s conventional morality (or lack thereof). Lenina can’t understand his reactions because of her psychological conditioning to accept the State’s standards without question. Such conditioning is echoed by the Epsilon’s childlike delight in his simple job.
Benito Hoover comes up to Bernard and remarks how pretty 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. Bernard is smaller than most Alphas and has always felt self-conscious and inferior as a result—something that reinforces his sense of being an outsider. He even envies conventional men, like Benito and Henry Foster, who move comfortably within the caste system.
Benito is also just living according to his conditioning. Bernard isn't, and in a society where everyone is the same, Bernard's differences stand out all the more sharply. His consciousness of being small has made him more aware of himself and thus helped to reinforce a lifelong sense of being different from everyone else—but in a society that rejects individuality, this is not a comfortable way to live.
Bernard flies to the College of Emotional Engineering to visit his friend Helmholtz Watson. Watson is the ideal Alpha-Plus: physically strong, desirable, and almost too outstanding at his job as an Emotional Engineer. It’s his outstanding ability that makes Watson aware of himself as an individual. He’s become aware that he’s different from everyone around him, and that he wants something more than sports, sex, and State-mandated activities.
Like Bernard, Helmholtz is an individual. Helmholtz is mentally superior, and so he is bored with the life allotted to him by the State. The lack of challenge and boredom make him aware of himself, much as Bernard’s small size, and the perception of derision from others, make Bernard aware of himself.
Helmholtz and Bernard discuss the dilemma of their individuality (though Bernard stifles 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, but when Helmholtz checks, nobody is there. 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.