Friday, July 22, 2011

Heather's Perspective on Brave New World

Good evening, imaginary viewers! I'm SO sorry that I haven't blogged in almost 7 months. I'm sure you cried and cried in my absence, wondering where I could have gone and why I abandoned you. I love you so much and I'll try not to let it happen again.
Since it's been so long, I suppose I'll give you a little update. Savanna is definitely not blogging again, as she is not taking AP English next year and we are no longer friends because of it (lololol, Heather made a funny). We may, however, be receiving a new blogger. I am encouraging my friend Lauren to try her hand at writing. She is the Grammar Queen of the high school, my best friend, quite beautiful, and possibly majoring in Journalism. If she does join us, I must insist that you welcome her with a plethora of applause and flowers and such.
By the way, I would really like to start another blog, but I have no idea what to blog about. So if any of you imaginary viewers have an idea, feel free to let me know.
Anyway, Brave New World is one of the seven books on my summer reading list. I've only actually read 2 books... Yes, I am aware that I am in trouble. I do not care.
I am not normally a fan of science fiction. This book, however, was pretty good. It was written well, and the author did a fantastic job of describing how he views the future.  The plot could have used better transitions, though. I have the opposite problem when writing... I always want to skip the exposition and go straight to developing the plot. We need to find a happy medium here, people.
The book started out with the explanation of the process of manufacturing babies. I admit that I was confused to begin with; I had absolutely no idea what was going on. When I finally realized that the characters were discussing the manufacturization (Chrome says that's not a word... =[ oh well) of children, I suppressed the urge to yell, "that's sick!" And I don't mean "sick" in that good way, the way that means "cool." I mean "sick" like puking up your guts and bark-coughing kind of sick. It was also a little disgustingly fascinating. 
So they put the manufactured fetuses through vats of alcohol, and left them there for certain amounts of time, depending on their predetermined caste. They were Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, or Epsilons. I appreciated the fact that they used the Greek alphabet as the basis of their caste system, because I didn't have to do any memorizing. I don't much like books that require me to think. I like to just zone out and go into reading mode. Anyway, the Epsilons were the lowest caste, obviously, which made me a little sad because I think the word "Epsilon" sounds really cool. Go on, imaginary readers. Say "Epsilon" out loud. Cool, right?
So the Epsilons are left in the alcohol the longest, which damages their brains. Then, when the Epsilons are old enough, they perform the lowliest, simplest jobs that the community requires. When the kids (of all castes) are babies, they're conditioned to believe, love, or hate certain things. For example, they didn't want people reading, so they put a book in front of a baby and then shocked the baby as soon as the baby touched the book. Doing this several times a week for a few years would make just about anyone cringe at the sight of a book. When they're old enough to comprehend speech, the children are subjected to sleep-teaching (there is a word for that in the book, but I don't remember it). They put a little "whispering box" under the pillow of each child. The box tells the kids all sorts of things, and the children grow up believing the statements that the box communicates. For example, Beta kids were told something like this:
"I am quite glad that I am a Beta. Those Deltas and Epsilons are dirty and only useful for primitive jobs. I am important, but I do not have to work quite as hard as the Alphas. I really am quite glad that I am a Beta."
Again, these things disgusted as well as fascinated me, but the author spent too long dwelling on the exposition of the future and not enough time on the characters or plots. The characters were very well indirectly described, but not much was done to directly describe them. 
The story starts out with Lenina as the main character, then switches to Bernard, then to "the Savage." (In this book, it is socially unacceptable to be with only one person, or to be with one person for too long. People are expected to sleep with as many people as they can.) Lenina is a woman (a Beta, I think?) who is caught up in the expectations of society, but unconsciously wants more than pleasure 24/7. Bernard is an Alpha, but is small in size and therefore sneered upon by his fellow Alphas. He does not like golfing. (GASP! How inappropriate and socially unacceptable!) The reader gets the idea that he is in love with Lenina, but later he gains popularity and forgets about love and any of his own original ideas. The Savage, John, comes from the reservation where there are... Indians, I suppose. 
When they talked about the reservation, I expected it to be a place where normal people lived. A place where you and I might live. They said that there were rumors of Christianity and marriage and having babies and families (*shudder*). The reservation was really a place where they worshiped God but also other gods, where they whipped one another as sacrifices to gods, and where they had absolutely no personal hygiene. Ugh.
John despised living in the rez because the other kids hated him. His mother was from "civilization," but had gotten lost and ended up in the reservation. She couldn't go back to society because she'd gotten pregnant. (the horror!) Bernard went to visit the rez, heard about John, and decided to take him back to society for testing. This was the source of Bernard's popularity... He brought an animal back from the zoo! How enthralling! 
Long story short, John's mother died and he got sick and tired of society. So he ran away to this lighthouse where he whipped himself whenever he caught himself thinking of Lenina. (who he was in love with, by the way... And she loved him in return, but had the wrong idea of love. She thought love just meant that she wanted to sleep with him... reminds me of some people I know...) He grew his own food and hunted what he couldn't grow. He was hounded by the then-modern day paparazzi, which drove him insane. Then Lenina came to visit him, and John went into a panicked frenzy and began screeching, "you whore!" and such, and whipping himself over and over. The public thought this was hilarious, because they are conditioned to think that pain and death are insignificant or even, in some cases, humorous. 
The people all finally left John's hideout, and someone came to look for him in the morning. He had hanged himself by the lighthouse's light.
The end.

...Yeah, the end. I wasn't very disappointed by the end, though, because a) society was so screwed up that there couldn't possibly be any remedy to the mess that was made, and b) I prepared myself for at least one person's death, because, well, why else would my English teacher assign it to us?
I REALLY liked the way that the author presented John's death. He said something about how you could see his feet (which were not moving), and then you could see his feet swinging from one side to the other, and back again. I had to read it twice before I figured out that he'd killed himself. I thought it was quite horrible and very poetic.
Then I spent two hours brooding about how I will never, ever be as poetic or as good at developing characters and setting as Aldous Huxley is.
I find it a bit ironic that I was more upset that a published author is a better writer than I am than by the horrific death of one of the main characters.