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Brave New World Chapter 18 Summary

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
In the final chapter of Brave New World, we find out what happens to John and Lenina, and learn just what society finally does to John. Read the lesson, and test yourself with the quiz!

The Goodbyes

Chapter 18 of Brave New World opens with goodbyes. John, now the protagonist of the story, is parting with his friends Helmholtz Watson and Bernard Marx, both of whom are to be exiled the next morning to the Falklands.

Bernard attempts to apologize for the scene he created in Mond's office in chapter 16 (Bernard pleaded frantically for a different sentence and had to be sedated), but John responds with a warm handshake. It's clear that this moment is the closest the three men have ever felt to anyone else--just as they are about to be split up forever. This chapter also reveals that John had hoped to accompany Bernard and Helmholtz into exile. However, Resident World Controller of Western Europe Mustapha Mond forbade it, as he wanted to know how John would continue to act in civilization without using the pleasure drug soma, among other societal norms of the World State. Mustapha saw it as a sort of scientific experiment. That said, John has different plans.

Brave New World cover
Brave New World cover

The Solitude

As his friends depart for their exile, John endeavors to find his own piece of loneliness. We learn that he finds some distance away from London at a lighthouse meant to guide helicopters. He knows that he won't be able to fully escape society, but at least here he has a great distance from it. Nowhere is this more evident than in the supplies John purchases before he leaves--despite his best efforts, there is a fair amount of synthetic material in his pack. John continues to try to make the most of a life away from everyone else, and he even finds himself cheerfully singing. However, he quickly stops himself. After all, the reason he came to the lighthouse was not to be happy, but to escape being consumed by the World State and to cleanse himself of impurities of that society. So, he prepares mustard and hot water for a purification ceremony.

The Whip

Another part of John's purification exercises involves beating himself with a whip. This catches the attention of a few nearby Delta-Minus landworkers, who go on to report the act to others. Within a few days, reporters descended on John's domain. He makes it clear he wants solitude, but more and more keep coming and pressing him for questions about why he is beating himself. All this adds to his celebrity, and soon someone records John whipping himself and releases the images as a feely, a movie that involves the sensation of touch in addition to sight and sound. More people come to watch him beat himself with the whip. All the while, he is trying to atone for his sins, particularly those involving Lenina, the woman he loves and toward whom he had impure thoughts and a violent outburst.

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