Brave New World


An Analysis of Major Characters

John, “the Savage”

Ultimately, John is the real protagonist of Brave New World. Although he is not introduced until the second half of the novel, he quickly takes center stage as the only true individual among the characters, and the closest thing to a hero we are offered. Born on the Savage Reservation, raised by a mother of the World State who was horrified to give birth, rejected by the indigenous population, and later repulsed by the civilization of the World State which is his only alternative, John is truly at home nowhere.

Our first impression of John is through the eyes of Lenina and Bernard, who are startled to see a blond, light-skinned young man among the Indians on the Reservation. He speaks perfect English, but in what strikes them as an odd way, which we will come to find is a combination of his mother’s English with that of William Shakespeare’s. John startles Lenina and Bernard by admitting that he had wanted to be the recipient of the whipping they had just witnessed in a tribal ceremony, but that he was not allowed. John’s outsider status is clear. Rejected by the culture into which he was born, he is desperately eager to “return” to the civilization of his origins, this wonderful London his mother has been pining for all these years. John’s experience in the World State civilization, however, makes it clear that this is a culture which cannot be swallowed by someone who has not had the proper conditioning from the beginning. He is physically repulsed by the caste system, by the process of mass-manufacturing twins, and most of all by the World State’s attitudes toward sex and death.

John is truly an individual—deeply emotional, complex, full of questions and strong personal reactions to what he sees. Although he has a clear capacity for intelligent, independent thought—as evidenced by his debate with Mustapha Mond—he is not entirely without his own conditioning. Having been given a book containing the complete works of William Shakespeare...

Sign up to continue reading An Analysis of Major Characters >

Essays About Brave New World