Brave New World Chapter 12 Summary

As chapter 12 begins, Bernard has invited some very important people to a party to meet John. But Bernard has skipped the step of asking John if he wanted a party. If he had asked John, he would have saved himself a great deal of time and embarrassment. John does not want to see these people nor does he want them in Bernard's apartment, as a result John refuses to emerge from his bedroom. The guests including the Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury are extremely angry at Bernard. Only after Bernard pleads with the guests do they agree to stay and eat, but they leave as soon as possible. As he is leaving the Arch-Community-Songster warns Bernard to mend his ways before it is too late.

John's refusal to attend the party crushes Lenina. She had finally decided to tell John about her feelings for him. Because that is no longer possible she decides to go home with the Arch-Community-Songster.

Meanwhile, Mustapha Mond is reflecting on a paper he has just read titled A New Theory of Biology. It is a paper which uses math to explain the purpose of life in terms of making a difference by looking at knowledge as something to be larger than that taught by the Society. A person should seek to broaden their sense of self and look beyond Society for a sense of purpose. This, of course, cannot be allowed. If the upper castes were exposed to these types of thoughts, then their conditioning might be undone. After all everyone knows their purpose is to maintain well-being. The paper, for these reasons, must not be published. In fact the author of the paper is to be watched and even considered for transfer to the Marine Biological Station of St. Helena. The Controller does not disagree with the paper, but in the World State it is not admissible.

Bernard is once again lonely and feeling isolated. John's refusal to attend the party has taken away Bernard's temporary popularity and power. He holds a grudge against John, even though he knows that John was within his rights not to attend the party. John is sympathetic to Bernard's plight. He tells Bernard he likes him more now because Bernard is more like the person he was at the Reservation. Bernard bemoans the fact that he is now unhappy and that is how he felt at the Reservation. Bernard, to himself recognizing the truth in John's words, still feels resentment towards John for undoing his happiness. Therefore, Bernard decides to take revenge against John.

Bernard also goes back to Helmholtz Watson and asks if they can restore their friendship. During the time of Bernard's power and popularity, he allowed Helmholtz to go by the wayside. Helmholtz accepts his appeal and without rancor proceeds as if nothing had ever happened. This was also upsetting to Bernard, for Helmholtz was kind on his own. He did not need to use soma to feel happy. Because of Helmholtz's kindness, Bernard feels resentful. He could only be this unselfish with the use of soma. So he decides to make Helmholtz pay for being such a kind person.

Bernard also finds out that Helmholtz himself has had a falling out with the Authority. It seems he is teaching an Advanced Emotional Engineering for Third Year Students class. In the class he was teaching the students how to use rhymes for moral propaganda. Instead of using one of the World State sanctioned rhymes as an example he used a rhyme he had written himself. The poem was about being alone. The students are conditioned to find being alone abhorrent. They turned Helmholtz into the Principal and he threatened to fire him. Helmholtz now feels that he is being watched to see if he does anything else which is against the school's policies.

Helmholtz and John become fast friends which, in turn, makes Bernard jealous. After all it was he who brought John to London and took him into his home. But the ease with which Helmholtz and John relate to one another was never achieved between Bernard and John. So when Helmholtz and John begin to share poetry Bernard goes out of his way to make fun and ridicule them. It is Helmholtz though who ultimately upsets John. John is reading a passage from Romeo and Juliet in which Juliet is pleading with her parents to postpone or cancel her marriage to Paris. But as John reads about Juliet's mother and father, Helmholtz begins to laugh at the situation in the play. The fact that the girl has to keep concealed whom she really wants to be with and the usage of the obscene words mother and father are just too much. All of this goes against Helmholtz's conditioning of having who you want whenever you want and of course no one has parents in the World State. He tries to apologize to John and explain the reason for his mirth but John just puts away the book. Helmholtz in the end feels that instead of producing drama through romantic dilemmas, what is really needed is a different type of violence and insanity.

This chapter of the book focuses once again on the themes of isolation, loneliness, and the inability to acclimate to the norms of society. Bernard is now feeling alone and isolated because he is no longer popular due to John's refusal to attend the party. He is also jealous of the relationship between John and Helmholtz. Helmholtz is in trouble because of his poem which was about being alone. The school found it totally unacceptable. John is not able to fit in even when he thinks he has found someone who understands him. Helmholtz's reaction to Romeo and Juliet just reinforced to him how different he is from those who are natural members of the Society.

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