Book Discussion Kits for Adults
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley conjures up a horrifying, but often comic, vision of a future Utopia in which humans are processed, conditioned, regimented, and drugged into total social conformity. The story, set in a futuristic London, focuses on the misadventures of Bernard Marx. Disaffected with the regimentation of society, Bernard and his girlfriend, Lenina, visit the American Southwest where Native Americans are permitted to live in an "uncivilized" state. There they come upon a fair-skinned young man named John, who turns out to be the son of a Londoner, and Bernard brings John back to "civilized" London.
For a while, the "Savage" creates a sensation. Eventually the Savage becomes increasingly horrified by the "brave new world" and retreats into reading Shakespeare's plays. The Savage has fallen passionately in love with Lenina, but has convinced himself that any sexual contact between them would be a grievous sin--a stance that completely baffles Lenina who has been conditioned to enjoy promiscuous sex without any emotional commitment. In despair, the Savage precipitates a riot. Bernard is exiled for his participation and the Savage holes up in an abandoned lighthouse, where he grows food and mortifies his flesh as penance for his lust for Lenina. In the end, reporters discover the Savage and photograph his bizarre rituals of self-flagellation. A nightly carnival ensues as swarms of London curiosity seekers come to witness the antics of this strange creature. Finally the Savage, in shame and desperation, hangs himself.