Brave New World: Chapter 8

Outside, Bernard and John are walking and talking about the Savage’s past. Bernard seems almost overcome with the situation, saying, “So hard for me to realize, to reconstruct. As though we were living on different planets, in different centuries.”The rest of the chapter describes the childhood upbringing of John, Linda’s son. It is a bit confusing since John has a hard time articulating his experiences— he just tells his distinct memories to Bernard. At first Linda did not want him as a son. In her world, being a mother was dirty so she had a difficult time resigning herself to the fact that she now had a son.John recalls that his happiest times were when Linda would tell him about her world, with the flying helicopters and the soma, though she wasn’t able to answer most of his questions about the world (since she only knew her specific job knowledge and nothing else; John had to turn to the tribal elders to answer these types of questions). On the reservation, Linda soon became addicted to pescal, Indian alcohol, despite it’s damaging side-effects. She also had several run-ins with the Indian wives after sleeping with their husbands. She, of course raised in civilization where ‘everyone belonged to everyone else,’ wasn’t accustomed to their backwards vows of marital faithfulness.On one occasion, John even tried to kill Pope, the man Linda was sleeping with. Armed with his new knowledge of Shakespeare (which he had recently been given to read), the Savage tried to kill the man with a knife, but failed miserably. Another experience is revealed when John tells Bernard about his meetings with Mitsima, the Indian elder who acts as a father to John.Yet the most dramatic memory is when at age sixteen he follows the other Indian boys out into the wilderness in the “becoming a man” ceremony. Soon John is laughed at by the other boys and told to go home, being the son of the “she-dog.” This humiliates John, who decides to engage in his own ceremony of self-sacrifice and manhood. He fasts and tortures himself like the other boys, and even tries to empathize with Christ on the cross, but he does this by himself. This story interests Bernard, who also feels like an outcast in his world, and the two both empathize with each other’s suffering. Soon Bernard invites John and Linda home with him, seeing the opportunity to capitalize on them and get back at the Director.