Malpais in Brave New World

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Not every place in 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley is as civilized as England. There are still places where life goes on almost as it did before. In this lesson, we will learn more about one of these places, Malpais.

Savage Reservation

In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, only certain citizens have access to savage reservations. Because of Bernard's position as a psychologist, he is able to arrange a trip for Lenina and himself. After much effort including a plane ride, a long hike, and climbing steep ladders, Lenina and Bernard arrive in Malpais. Malpais is a much less civilized place than they have become accustomed to.

The Labyrinth

Malpais is on a mesa in a New Mexico desert area. A collection of pyramid-shaped houses, and buildings made of brown rock surrounded by walls, make up Malpais. Strange smells, piles of rubbish and bones, dogs, and flies surround the hidden reservation that may only be found through the help of a guide. They walked along for some way in the shadow of the mesa, rounded a projection, and there, in a water-worn ravine, was the way up the companion ladder. They climbed. It was a very steep path that zigzagged from side to side of the gully. Upon approaching Malpais, the rhythm of beating drums can be heard in the distance.

The Locals

While the drums seem familiar and calming, the presence of the savages is not. Shirtless, dark brown children with white, red, black, and orange face and body paint appear with feathered capes and head dresses. With every step they took came the clink and rattle of their silver bracelets, their heavy necklaces of bone and turquoise beads. Wearing deerskin moccasins on their feet and long black braids in their hair, the boys carry snakes in both hands. Soon another local is spotted. What's the matter with him? whispered Lenina. Her eyes were wide with horror and amazement. 'He's old, that's all,' Bernard answered as carelessly as he could. People in civilized England never look old because they are preserved for about sixty years before they disappear. Lenina is ashamed when she notices another pair of savages. The spectacle of two young women giving breast to their babies made her blush and turn away her face. She had never seen anything so indecent in her life. Malpais is the sort of place where people still get married and have babies. Lenina is disgusted!

Living Conditions

In civilized communities, cleanliness is next to Fordliness. It is shocking that people live with trash and dead animals in the street. …A woman with a goitre was looking for lice in the hair of a small girl. Lenina and Bernard walk into a long narrow room, rather dark and smelling of smoke and cooked grease and long-worn, long- unwashed clothes. Disgusted by the filthy smell and disgusting living conditions, Lenina covers her nose.

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