Brave New World Chapter 14 Summary

John flies to the Park Lane Hospital for the Dying where his mother, Linda, has been taken. The phone call he received at the end of chapter 13 alerted him to her transfer there. Linda is in a Galloping Senility ward, the function of the ward is give the patients comfort. This is achieved by putting various perfumes in the air, playing pleasant music and letting them watch a television box. The television box at the end of Linda's bed has been tuned to a tennis match. John hurries to see his mother. The ward nurse is completely baffled by this behavior. No one in the World State becomes upset about death, it is not in their conditioning. They are conditioned to see death as a normal circumstance and there is no reason to become upset by it. It is highly unusual for someone to be by a dying person's side, so John's presence it a bit bewildering to the nurse. Then John embarrasses the nurse by using the term mother when he had asks her to take him to his mother, Linda. In order to avoid further embarrassment, she quickly takes him to Linda.

He is allowed to see Linda in her bed, but she is in a state of semi-consciousness. He holds her hand and tries to speak to her but, she only mentions the name of one of her lovers from the Reservation. John is angry that she does not realize he is there. He tries to remember the good times they had together; her teaching him to read, them talking together, her version of the Other Place, her version which is so different than the reality of London.

All at once the ward is, to John's mind, invaded by a set of 20 twins in khaki. They are there to be death-conditioned. These twins swarm around Linda's bed because she looks so different from the other patients. This is because the other patients look as though they are young girls, Linda on the other hand is fat, with wrinkled skin. One of the children pops out from under the bed and stares closely into Linda's face. John takes the child by the collar and lifts him away from Linda. He then hits the twin in the ears for his intrusion into Linda's space. The Head Nurse threatens to throw John out if he continues to behave in this manner. The Head Nurse cannot understand John's behavior. Why would someone become so upset at the death of another person? There really is no need for all this upset, after all death is no big deal. The Head Nurse resolves the problem by removing the children to another part of the room. She has them play a game and later they are given treats to eat. The purpose is to have the children associate death with fun.

John is desperate to have Linda recognize him. For a brief moment it seems as if she might realize he is there. She says his name but then she again mentions her former lover's name. John is unable to control his emotions any longer. He shakes her and yells his name at her, she opens her eyes. Then she, for the last time, says his name. She begins to gasp for air but, none will fill her lungs, John runs for help. Unfortunately by the time John and the nurse return Linda is gone. John sits by her bedside and sobs. His mother and the only person who truly understands his position of being a person from the Reservation living in London is gone forever.

The twins are watching John's reaction to his mother's death. The nurse seeing this is afraid this encounter will set back the twins death-conditioning by months. Her remedy is to go to the grieving John and tell him to behave himself. John keeps saying "Oh, God" over and over again. The twins do not understand what he is saying or why he is saying it. Finally John gets up to leave his mother but the twins will not leave him alone. They dog his every step, pestering him by asking again and again if Linda is dead. This is the final straw for John. He pushes a twin who is in his way. The child falls and starts to cry. John does not even register what is happening around him.

This chapter shows John's anguish for his mother. He not only watches her die but, also must deal with the intrusion of the Bokanovsky twins. He does not appreciate their intrusion into such a private time between him and his mother. Once again Huxley points out the differences in how John and the Society view relationships. To the nurses death is just a fact of life, nothing to get worked up about. To John it is a significant event in his life and for his mother. The loss of his mother is seen as a time of sorrow and emotional turmoil. So John, once again, does not fit into the norm.

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