Brave New World

Brave New World Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lenina is shocked by the poverty and lack of modern conveniences in the Reservation. The pueblo is dirty, with dogs prowling through rubbish-filled streets, and there are old people everywhere. Out of soma, both she and Bernard have to absorb these spectacles unaided.
The World State infuses people with young blood throughout their lives, keeping them in a youthful, healthy state until they die around the age of 60—so the sight of aged people is an understandable shock. Suffering and loss, of course, would lead to sadness—one of many complex emotions that do not serve the State.
Themes
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Their Indian guide leads Bernard and Lenina onto a terrace. At first, the loud ritual drumming and even the harsh singing soothes Lenina, reminding her of “orgy-porgy” at Solidarity Services. But soon she’s unnerved by masked dancers circling the terrace with writhing snakes, and after that, a young man emerges from the crowd and is ritually whipped until he collapses.
The ritual dance includes extremes of suffering and emotion that Lenina, long accustomed to masking unpleasant emotions with soma, can't comprehend. Such emotions have no value to the State—in fact, they’re completely unproductive—but here, on the conditioning-free Reservation, they have high value for the community’s identity and cohesion.
Themes
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After the dance, Bernard and Lenina meet a pale-skinned, blue-eyed young man in Indian dress. He says in peculiar (Shakespearean) English that he wishes he were the one who had been whipped—for the sake of the pueblo community, he could have borne it better, yielding more blood. When Lenina speaks to him, the man stops short. He has never seen a white woman before, and he thinks she's beautiful.
The young man, in contrast to a World State citizen but in perfect keeping with his “uncivilized” environment, wants to feel powerful emotion. Shakespeare, with his plays that capture all the range of human experience and passion, is a perfect symbol for such a wish.
Themes
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The young man explains to Bernard and Lenina that his mother, Linda, came from the Other Place long ago, with “Tomakin,” the man who was his father. His mother had fallen and gotten injured, whereupon some Malpais hunters had taken her to the pueblo. Later, the young man was born there. He leads Bernard and Lenina to his little house on the outskirts of the pueblo and introduces them to his mother, a very fat, blond, visibly aged squaw. Lenina is repulsed by the woman’s wrinkled, sagging appearance, her unwashed stench, and her tearful greeting. Bernard, meanwhile, is excited, realizing that “Tomakin” is the Director, Thomas.
Linda is everything that a World State woman shouldn’t be: old, unhygienic, and unrestrainedly emotional. In addition, she is a mother, in itself obscene to the State. All of this very disconcerting to Lenina. Bernard sees a chance for revenge, a very individual, "human" desire that would be foreign to most members of the World State. For both of them, this unexpected encounter provides an opportunity to see unconditioned human life up close.
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Linda continues to weep, telling Lenina how much she’s missed her former life in civilization, where she worked in the Fertilizing Room as a Beta: the lack of soma (she drinks mescal and uses peyotl instead, which aren’t nearly as effective); being forced to bear a child (there are no Abortion Centres here); and seeing the Indians’ “revolting” practices of getting monogamously married and having lots of children. Nevertheless, her son John has been a comfort to her, though she fears the Indians’ “mad” practices have rubbed off on him, even though he’s often been ostracized for looking different.
Linda is an incongruous picture of a World State citizen who’s isolated from the so-called comforts of civilization—the ability to easily mask negative feelings, avoid childbearing, etc. Likewise, John is a misfit in the Indian community, but because he’s grown up here, some of their beliefs and practices—“unnatural” from the State’s perspective—have shaped his character and outlook.
Themes
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