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John and the Soma

John and the Soma

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Published by Stuart Henderson

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Published by: Stuart Henderson on Aug 28, 2011
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Lecture Topic John and the soma destruction

What happens?
Early in chapter 15 we see John leaving the hospital where his mother has just died. He runs into a group of Deltas who have just finished up their day of work. They are waiting for their daily soma distribution. John, having just seen soma destroy his mother to the point where she no longer even recognises him, comes to the realisation that soma is what really enslaves the citizens of the World State. He then takes it upon himself to show the Deltas the truth.

Importance passages
The Savage stood looking on. ´O brave new world, O brave new world.µ In his mind the singing words seemed to change their tone. They had mocked him through his misery and remorse, mocked him with how hideous a note of cynical derision! Fiendishly laughing, they had insisted on the low squalor, the nauseous ugliness of the nightmare. Now, suddenly, they trumpeted a call to arms. ´O brave new world!µ Miranda was proclaiming the possibility of loveliness, the possibility of transforming even the nightmare into something fine and noble. ´O brave new world!µ It was a challenge, a command. ´Linda had been a slave, Linda had died; others should live in freedom, and the world be made beautiful. A reparation, a duty. And suddenly it was luminously clear to the Savage what he must do; it was as though a shutter had been opened, a curtain drawn back.µ

Important passages
´But do you like being slaves?µ the Savage was saying as they entered the Hospital. His face was flushed, his eyes bright with ardour and indignation. ´Do you like being babies? Yes, babies. Mewling and puking,µ he added, exasperated by their bestial stupidity into throwing insults at those he had come to save. The insults bounced off their carapace of thick stupidity; they stared at him with a blank expression of dull and sullen resentment in their eyes. ´Yes, puking!µ he fairly shouted. Grief and remorse, compassion and duty-all were forgotten now and, as it were, absorbed into an intense overpowering hatred of these less than human monsters. ´Don·t you want to be free and men? Don·t you even understand what manhood and freedom are?µ Rage was making him fluent; the words came easily, in a rush. ´Don·t you?µ he repeated, but got no answer to his question. ´Very well then,µ he went on grimly. ´I·ll teach you; I·ll make you be free whether you want to or not.µ And pushing open a window that looked on to the inner court of the Hospital, he began to throw the little pill-boxes of soma tablets in handfuls out into the area.

Implications
‡ Distinct reminder of John·s reliance on art in order to shape his understand and
engagement with the world. He sees his world through Shakespeare·s text. It is what frames and shapes his world, and allows him to comprehend it.

‡ Foregrounds the connection between soma and slavery. Highlights the way in which
soma is a means of control, rather than a treat or something to be desired. John·s view point creates an important contrast to the view point of the likes of Lenina who see soma as a wonderful privilege.

‡ The connection between freedom and adulthood. John·s attitude highlights the infant-like
nature of the citizens of the World State. It nicely connects into Bernard·s attitude that the citizens live their lives as children and are never allowed to grow up because the World State won·t allow it. Again, John·s place as the outsider allows us this insight. He is able to see what the Deltas can·t, which allows us to fully appreciate the nightmarish quality of the World State.

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