Brave New World


Chapter 8


Outside the hut, Bernard asks John to explain his life from the beginning. At this point, the narration switches to primarily John’s perspective. John relates his earliest memories, of Linda having sexual relationships with men. One of her frequent partners was Pope, who also gave her mescaline and peyote. John remembers that the Indian women beat his mother and called her terrible names. His early life is one of pain and confusion. His mother would often speak of the “Other Place,” and John came to think of it as a wonderful and perfect world.

John and Linda were never accepted into the culture on the Reservation. Although John tried to participate, he was actively forbidden. The most poignant example of this is a story of the other boys beating him with stones when he tried to join in a rite-of-passage ceremony. His experience has been one of alienation. The only person who has been kind to him, apart from his mother, is an elder named Mitsima, who taught him how to make pottery and bows when he turned 15. John recalls feeling an “intense, absorbing happiness” when making pottery with Mitsima.

Linda taught John to read and Pope gave him a book containing the complete works of William Shakespeare. John has obviously read the book over and over, and it deeply influences his way of thinking about the world. John also tells Bernard that, denied of his rite-of-passage ceremony, he thought of one for himself. He went out into the wilderness and stood like Jesus on the cross in the midday sun until he fainted and cut his forehead. Bernard is fascinated by John’s experiences, even though he cannot fully understand them. When John describes himself as being “alone, always alone,” Bernard emotionally confides that he is, too. Seeing an opportunity to shame the D.H.C., Bernard invites John and Linda to return to the World State and says that he will make the arrangements. In rapture, John quotes Shakespeare’s The Tempest, crying, “O brave new world that has such people...

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