Brave New World (notes)

Techer's notes for reading classes. Brave New world (level 6)
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Published on: 2012-01-20
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PENGUIN READERS Teacher’s notes LEVEL 6 Teacher Support Programme Brave New World Aldous Huxley Summary Set far in the future, in the twenty-sixth century, it depicts a society in which people’s lives are completely controlled by world government. Foetuses are created by artificial fertilization in test tubes and ‘parents’ are unknown. Society is divided into different levels, with each level performing different functions, and children are given whispered messages in their sleep that teach them to be content with their place in society. The ‘happiness’ drug, soma, is freely distributed so that unhappiness is never experienced. It is a society in which freedom has been sacrificed for happiness and stability. Only a few individuals dare to question the society in which they live. About the author Into this society comes a ‘Savage’, a young man brought Born in 1894, Aldous Huxley belonged to a very up in one of the few places in the world where people are distinguished family, the most famous of whom was allowed to live under natural conditions. What will be the his grandfather, TH Huxley, an eminent scientist and fate of the Savage and the two brilliant young men who writer. Huxley’s elder brother Julian also became a famous dare to befriend him? Will the Savage succeed in retaining biologist and writer. But family distinction could not the ideal of freedom that his childhood taught him? And if protect the Huxley boys from misfortune. Their mother he does, what price will he pay? died when Huxley was fourteen and at sixteen, he Chapter 1 developed serious eye trouble which caused him to become It is AF 632 in Central London, one of the ten world almost completely blind. This did not prevent Huxley zones. The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning from pursuing a brilliant career. After leaving university, guides students on a tour of the laboratory where people he became a journalist and by the age of twenty-five he are made in five pre-determined castes according to the had already published three volumes of poetry. He wrote specific needs of a society whose motto is Community, a number of successful novels in his twenties and early Identity, Stability. Thanks to the Bokanovsky process it is thirties, including Antic Hay (1923), and Point Counter possible to develop many identical twins from only one Point (1928), and was regarded as a witty commentator embryo. on contemporary society. When Brave New World came Chapter 2 out, the novel was instantly recognized as an important Once the babies are decanted, they are conditioned to work having a vital message for society. During the 1930s accept their predestined identity. Catchy messages are Huxley became very involved in the peace movement drilled into their brains by means of sleep teaching and in Europe. When this failed, he left Europe in 1937 for their likes and hates are electroshocks. California, and spent the rest of his life there, pursuing his interest in spiritual and mystical matters. He continued Chapter 3 to write in many genres. He explored the effect of Lenina, a Beta, takes her friend Fanny’s advice not to mind-altering drugs and wrote two books, The Doors of go out with the same man so long, and announces she Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956), that had will accept Bernard Marx’s invitation to visit a Savage a great impact on young people in the 1960s and 1970s. Reservation, even though he is rather strange for an Huxley died of cancer in 1963 and is today regarded as a Alpha plus. man who wrote brilliant and provocative ‘novels of ideas.’ Chapter 4 Lenina goes out with Henry again. Bernard and his colleague Helmholtz Watson discuss their differences with standard citizens. They have individual ideas. c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Brave New World - Teacher’s notes  of 5

PENGUIN READERS Teacher’s notes LEVEL 6 Teacher Support Programme Brave New World Chapter 5 Chapter 13 Lenina and Henry pass the Slough Crematorium, where Linda dies while there is a round of children being phosphorus is recovered so that people are socially useful death-conditioned in the hospital. even after death. Bernard attends a Unity Service: twelve Chapter 14 men and women become one after communing soma and Blaming soma for his mother’s death, John throws away praising the Greater Being. It ends in an orgy. the soma being distributed freely in the hospital. The Chapter 6 police come and gas soma over the crowd. John is taken Bernard shares with Lenina his desire to be himself, and prisoner. feel passion. This horrifies and puzzles her. The DHC Chapter 15 signs the permit to go to the New Mexican Reservation. Mond explains to John that art and history are forbidden He tells Bernard the story of his visit long ago but later for the sake of happiness and stability, and how he gave up regrets it. science to become a controller. Chapter 7 Chapter 16 Without her soma, Lenina can hardly bear to watch the Mond explains there is no need for God where there is dance. They meet John, the Savage, born to Linda, a comfort. John argues for suffering and poetry and God, former civilized citizen, who found it hard to reconcile her although they make you sad. conditioning with life in the Reservation. Chapter 17 Chapter 8 John retreats to a lighthouse to be alone. He is stalked by Linda retells the horrors of her life there: she became a the media. He kills himself. mother, she was beaten by the local women and she had no soma. She discovers mescal to ease her pain and has The original text Pope to comfort her. John was brought up among Linda’s First published in 1932, the book was instantly recognized stories from the Other Place, the works of Shakespeare and as an important novel that warned the reader about the the local culture. Bernard offers to take him to London dangers of science when it is misused. This prophetic book and gets permission to do so. remains, in the twenty-first century, astonishingly relevant Chapter 9 to our times. The DHC is considering exemplary punishment for Bernard when he marches in, followed by John and Linda. Background and themes On hearing John call him father, he resigns, ashamed. From time to time a book appears that has something vital to say to society. Brave New World is such a novel. Chapter 10 Everybody is curious about the new creature so Bernard As a teenager, Huxley’s first love was science; his near- becomes very popular. Linda goes on a soma holiday, blindness prevented him from pursuing science as a career, which John feels is not right. After the cinema, Lenina but his interest remained, and it is Huxley’s understanding expects an intimate encounter but John leaves her at her of the directions in which science is likely to lead the door. world that forms the basis of the novel. Chapter 11 Brave New World is a vision of a future in which a world John refuses to meet some guests, who blame Bernard. government is able, through scientific methods, to totally John introduces Shakespeare to Helmholtz, who is thrilled control people’s lives, from the moment of conception at his skill as a writer. to the moment of death. Three main scientific methods are used: genetic engineering – the genes of a foetus are Chapter 12 scientifically manipulated to produce a specific kind of On Fanny’s advice, Lenina visits John. He declares his human being, fit to work at a certain level of society; love for her but when she undresses, he withdraws at such conditioning – young children are given powerful messages immorality. He gets a call from the hospital about Linda’s that teach them to think and feel in certain ways, and the condition. use of soma to induce ‘happiness’. c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Brave New World - Teacher’s notes  of 5

PENGUIN READERS Teacher’s notes LEVEL 6 Teacher Support Programme Brave New World In the novel, the World Controller for Europe, Mustapha After reading Mond, explains that these methods of control are used 4 Discuss: Ask students to discuss the following: for the good of society, in order to ensure happiness and Do you think that methods such as sleep conditioning and conditioning (e.g. pairing electric shocks with stability. And it is true that society in this ‘brave new flowers) are effective? Give reasons for your opinion. world’ is both happy and stable. Huxley does not make the naive mistake of idealizing a life that is not controlled Chapters 4–6 by science. The Savage, who was brought up on an Before reading 5 Discuss: Ask students whether the story so far has American Indian reservation, lived a life that was in many any similarities to their ideal worlds discussed before ways uncomfortable and unpleasant. But – and Huxley they started to read the book. makes the point powerfully – the Savage has free will, something that is denied to the inhabitants of the brave While reading 6 Pair work: Put students into pairs and ask them to new world. Thus, the author brilliantly poses the reader discuss the following questions: with a profound question. Is free will – the freedom to (a) Describe the differences between Lenina and choose – worth the suffering that must go hand in hand Bernard. with it? This is the question that his novel explores. (b) What is your opinion of Bernard so far? Then have a class discussion. 7 Role play: (page 33) Lenina wants to visit the New Discussion activities Mexico Reservation, but has mixed feelings about Before reading Bernard. She thinks he is odd and that she should 1 Pair work: Ask students in pairs to think of an ideal not risk a trip with him. Ask students to act out a life. Where would it be? What would they be allowed conversation in which Lenina shares her doubts with to do? What would they have to do? Would they have Fanny. any limitations? Then have a class discussion to see if After reading there are ideas in common. 8 Group work: Lenina and Bernard fly over Malpais Chapters 1–3 and can have a view of the Reservation. The guide who is taking them refers to the place and the people Before reading using very negative images. There is also the report 2 Group work: Write the first paragraph of the book they can read and the Director’s description of his (see below) on the board. Put students in pairs. Tell own trip. Ask students in small groups to offer a more them that the title of the book is Brave New World positive description of the place from the point of and that the first paragraph of the story is on the view of the local people. Warn them they cannot twist board. Ask students, using this information, to write a the facts, only make them appear in a more positive short paragraph about what the book could be about, light. using dictionaries where necessary. Then ask pairs to read their paragraphs aloud. As a whole, the class then Chapters 7–9 has to reach an agreement as to what the book is Before reading about, finishing with a paragraph written up on the 9 Guess: Ask students to guess what they think is likely board. to happen in the next chapters. Then write down A low grey building, of only 34 floors. Over the their predictions on the board. main entrance the words CENTRAL LONDON HATCHING AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, While reading and below that the motto of the World State, 10 Discuss: (page 37) Bernard says ‘we are infants COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. where feelings and desire are concerned.’ Ask students in small groups to discuss how the social order in While reading Brave New World contributes to this. 3 Group work: Put students into small groups. Ask 11 Pair work: (after page 45) Put students into pairs. them to write down what they think are the three Ask them to discuss the following question: defining characteristics of the future described in In his descriptions of Indian life on the New Mexican Brave New World. Then elicit these characteristics Reservation, what do you think Huxley is trying to from students and write them up on the board until tell the reader about the local lifestyle? there is general agreement that the class has described the important ones. c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Brave New World - Teacher’s notes  of 5

PENGUIN READERS Teacher’s notes LEVEL 6 Teacher Support Programme Brave New World 12 Role play: (page 51) Ask students to imagine they are While reading Linda. You have just come to the Reservation and 19 Discuss: (page 95) Mustapha Mond says: ‘We believe describe to a local woman why you came to live in the in happiness and stability.’ What are his arguments in Reservation and how you feel about your life there. favour of these things? How does he say they are achieved? Ask them to act out the conversation. Do you agree with him? Encourage students to give reasons for their opinions. After reading 20 Pair work: Ask students in pairs to imagine that they 13 Role play: Divide students into pairs. Student A is could have a conversation with Mustapha Mond. a worker in the Fertilizing room who witnesses the They write down what they would say to him. Have scene between the Director, Bernard and Linda. students practise having the conversation and select a Student B is a reporter. Have Student B ask Student A few pairs to share their conversation with the rest of questions and have Student A answer them. Ask the class. students to practise the interview and select a few to share their role play with the rest of the class. After reading 21 Pair work: Put students into pairs. Ask students to Chapters 10–13 imagine that the Savage comes back to life. Student A Before reading plays the Savage. 14 Discuss: Ask students to discuss what should be done Student B plays his questioner. Student B, as his to the Director, now that it is clear John is his son. questioner, asks him to explain why he killed himself Does he deserve punishment? Which? Must he leave his and tries to get him to see that it was not necessary. job? Why/why not? Extra activities While reading 22 Debate: Organize a debate, in which the class is 15 Pair work: (after Chapter 10) Put students into pairs. divided in half. Half the class must support the Ask them to prepare a brief presentation in which following statement: they: ‘Happiness and stability in society are more important (a) Describe the Savage from the point of view of a than freedom.’ typical Alpha. The other half must support this statement: (b) Describe London society from the point of view ‘An individual’s freedom is more important than of the Savage. his/her happiness and the stability of society as a Then they share their ideas with the class. whole.’ 16 Group work: (after Chapter 12) Ask students in Divide each half into smaller groups and ask the small groups to discuss these questions: groups to prepare their arguments. Then have the (a) Who is your sympathy with in this chapter? Explain debate. First a student from one side speaks and then why. the other. At the end of the debate, take a vote on the (b) What do you think the telephone conversation is two positions. about? 23 Pair work: Ask students in pairs to select their Have a whole class discussion with the ideas generated favourite quote from the text. Then they share it with in the small groups. the rest of the class. Encourage them to account for their choice and to place it in the context of the story After reading so that it is clear to the rest. You can ask them to 17 Discuss: Ask students to discuss the following: write it on a poster and find a suitable picture to go Are Linda and John better off in the civilized world with it. After the activity, the poster can be displayed than they were in the Reservation? Why/why not? in the classroom. Use examples to support your arguments. 24 Group work: Few of Huxley’s predictions have Chapters 14 –17 proved to be perfectly accurate, yet many aspects of Before reading the Utopia of Brave New World remind us of our 18 Guess: Ask students to guess what is going to happen world. Ask students in groups to discuss the following to the Savage in the next four chapters. Why do questions: they think these things will happen? Include some The novel was published in the 1930s. Can it be examples from the book. considered as a prophetic vision of the future? How so? Which aspects of the book did you find most disturbing? Which strike you as most familiar? Which seem the most far-fetched? c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Brave New World - Teacher’s notes  of 5

PENGUIN READERS Teacher’s notes LEVEL 6 Teacher Support Programme Brave New World 25 Group work: Explain to students that themes are the 26 Discuss: Tell students that the Greek word utopia fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a means ‘an ideal place’. Its opposite, dystopia, is a literary work. Elicit from them what themes they can negative utopia or anti-utopia. Ask students to explain find in the novel. If this proves too difficult, write why Brave New World is considered a novel in that these on the blackboard. genre. The use of technology to control society The consumer society Vocabulary activities The conflict between happiness and truth For the Word List and vocabulary activities, go to The dangers of an all-powerful State The conflict between community and freedom The role of science Divide the class into groups and assign one theme to each group. Ask students to discuss how they are dealt with in the novel. c Pearson Education Limited 2008 Brave New World - Teacher’s notes  of 5

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