Brave New World Chapter 8 Summary

Bernard is having a hard time comprehending John and Linda's place in the Reservation. He asks John to explain it to him. Bernard tells him to recount everything he can remember of his life.

John's first memories are of as a little boy being sick, his mother telling him to come and lie with her on the bed to take a nap. A man enters the bedroom, he tells her that he wants to be with her. Linda responds that she will not because John is with her in the bed. The man against Linda's wishes tears the boy from her. He puts John in the other room and closes the door, which frightens John.

A few years later Linda takes John with her as she is going to help the women make blankets for the tribe. She tells John to play with the other children. Soon John hears loud voices and sees Linda being pushed out. In tears Linda takes John with her back to their house. The women had become angry with her because she broke a piece of their equipment. She is confused and incensed, wondering how she is supposed to know how to make blankets, since she does not know how. At home, Pope is waiting for them with some mescal, which is a drug like soma but it makes a person ill and sleepy. Pope gives Linda the mescal so that she will have sex with him. John hates Pope and all the other men who sleep with his mother. He thinks she is being used by them. He does not understand she has been conditioned to be promiscuous.

One day John returns home and sees his mother being held down and whipped by the women of the village. In an effort to stop them, he bites the hand of the woman holding the whip. She throws him down and whips him. When he asks his mother why the women were hurting her; she tells him it is because the men she had been with belonged to them. As John is trying to comfort his crying mother he touches a welt on her shoulder, she pushes him and he hits his head on the wall. John calls out mother. The name is repugnant to Linda. She lashes out at him by slapping him. He begs her to stop, finally, as she comes to her senses she stops. To cope with this incident she drinks mescal, lying in bed for days in a depression, ignoring John.

John feels that the happiest times with his mother is when she tells him of the Other Place. She reminisces about how happy everyone was, there was no sorrow, anger, or loneliness. Most of all she remembers how clean it was.

Linda taught John how to read. When he became good enough she gave him the only book she had with her, it is an instruction book, and he eventually learns to read it. It was his revenge against the taunts of the other boys about his mother. A lot of the times his mother could not answer his questions because she simply did not have the knowledge. In the Other Place you were only taught what you needed to know to do your job. But the old men of the village always seemed to have answers to every question.

When John was about 12-years old, Pope brought him a copy of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare." Reading it, he realized that there was magic in the words. The words were powerful to John because they related to him and his feelings. It spoke to him about his feelings about Linda and Pope. He hated Pope more than anything else in his world. One day he came home to find Linda and Pope in bed together asleep. The anger welled up inside him he took a knife and began stabbing Pope. He stabbed him about three times before he felt Pope's hand clamp around his wrist. But instead of hitting him Pope just looked at him. Laughing Pope told John to go, he called John his brave Ahaiyuta.

At the age of 15, Mitsima, who is the old man of the pueblo, taught John how to work with clay. It was a bonding experience between the two. John had several incidents happen that made him feel alone and isolated. One was when he watched the girl he loved marry another young man. Another was when he was denied the ability to partake in the coming-of-age ceremony held for the young men of the village. He was waiting his turn when he was pulled out of line. That night, feeling despondent, on the mesa he contemplated killing himself but instead, he looked at the blood dripping from his cut wrist (the men of the village had thrown rocks at him) and decided he could go on.

Bernard empathized with this young man's feelings of loneliness for he too felt alone. He told John he felt isolated because he is different than others of his caste. Thinking of how the Director would react to seeing his son, he surprised John by offering to take him to London. John wanted to take Linda back with them also. At first Bernard was repulsed at taking Linda. Then he remembered the Director and said that he would take Linda too as soon as he received permission to bring them both to London. At the end John recites the words "O brave new world."

Chapter eight recalls the trials John had to endure as the only white young man in the pueblo. Linda too, endures derision by the other women of the community. Linda is also unable to educate her son because of her limited education. John has questions about the world that are beyond her ken. Huxley, in this chapter, emphasizes how the inability to adapt to changing circumstances only leads to hardship and isolation.

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