Brave New World Chapter 2 Summary

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and extensive experience working in the business world as Director of Marketing and Business Development at a financial advice firm.

This lesson discusses chapter 2 of Aldous Huxley's classic dystopian novel, ''Brave New World.'' In this chapter, we learn how people are conditioned to follow the mandates of their predetermined castes, even as babies. Read the lesson, then test yourself with the quiz!

Learning about Conditioning

The second chapter of Brave New World continues as the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning, or DHC, continues to lead a group of students through the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Here, the group moves into the Infant Nurseries to learn how members of society are raised to fulfill certain responsibilities. As we will see in this lesson, society, as presented in Brave New World, is willing to use any means necessary to ensure its motto, Community, Identity, Stability, is upheld.

Brave New World
Brave New World book jacket

Economic Conditioning

The chapter opens by focusing on a group of Delta infants as they react to books and images of the countryside. These are things that humanity is somewhat hard-wired to love. However, the combination of sirens and electric shocks makes the children associate books and nature with pain and suffering.

One of the students, while acknowledging the logic of having lower caste members reject books, questions the reasoning behind conditioning them to dislike and disregard nature. The DHC responds that because nature is free, it leaves society without a source of demand for its factories. Without that source of demand, society is not as stable as it could be. In the Director's words, 'a love of nature keeps no factories busy,' and, as a result, society seeks to 'abolish the love of nature, but not the tendency to consume transport.' In short, members of society are conditioned to consume only manufactured goods and services. Because nature is free, individuals are taught to oppose it.

Leaving Family Behind

This discussion of economic demand leads to a new discussion concerning the notion of having people raised by the state rather than raised by families. While the reader learns the full depths of society's rejection of families and parents in the next chapter, it is here that the stage is set for the general discomfort that members of society feel when discussing this topic. The students use words like 'mother' and 'born' as if they are the most severe profanities imaginable.

Psychological Conditioning

The discussion of families quickly comes to an end, and the focus shifts to the importance of psychological conditioning. It is not only the increase of mass production that allows this society to maintain its stability, although that emphasis on mass production is always alluded to by the fact that society has replaced all other religious manifestations with a reverence for Henry Ford. Equally, psychology has a large role to play as well. Learning from the mistakes of the 20th century, the World State has determined that teaching (for intellectual knowledge) during sleep does not work. However, teaching (for moral knowledge) during sleep does work. Through the practice of hypnopaedia, or sleep learning, every generation of the World State becomes conditioned along the same lines.

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