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Brave New World Chapter 16 Summary

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
In Chapter 16 of Brave New World, Bernard and Helmholtz learn their fate, and we learn something unexpected about the World Controller. Read the lesson, and test yourself with the quiz!

John Comments on Civilization

After the riotous events of Chapter 15, Chapter 16 of Brave New World opens with Bernard, Helmholtz, and John being shown into the office of Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller for Western Europe. Mustapha asks John if there is anything that he actually does like about civilization to which John replies that much of it is horrid but the music is nice. Then Mustapha does something unexpected - he quotes Shakespeare. John is bewildered - here is someone who gets Shakespeare but doesn't want to share it. Mustapha goes on to explain that denying the people Shakespeare is done in the interest of stability.

Failure in Altering the Status Quo

John goes on to ask Mustapha more about this emphasis on stability, and Mustapha states that stability through happiness was viewed as a better thing than suffering. To illustrate his points, he offers two attempts that were made to alter the status quo.

The first of these was the Ireland experiment, in which the total work day was cut from seven and a half hours to barely four. However, it was discovered that the people spent too much time using soma and were not any happier.

Harsher still was the Cyprus experiment in which twenty two thousand Alphas were sent to colonize Cyprus. With no lower caste people to perform menial work, the Alphas went crazy, begging for the World State to save them.

Bernard's Punishment

Mustapha then turns his attention to Bernard and Helmholtz. For their part in the riot at the hospital, they both must be exiled to the islands. Bernard does not take this well at all. Immediately, he starts screaming and protesting. Mustapha motions for guards to sedate Bernard with a sedative and drag him away. As Bernard leaves, Mustapha muses that he is actually jealous of Bernard, stating that he will end up meeting the most interesting people imaginable and will actually enjoy his exile.

The Importance of the Islands

Helmholtz presses Mustapha on this, and the latter reveals that he too was once an outsider. Mustapha was given the choice of being a World Controller or entering exile - he chose to engineer others' happiness instead of creating his own.

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