In Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, John the Savage is a combination of the two societies in which he exists. He is also an outsider in both. By having such a removed character, Huxley is able to create the perfect foil that brings out the flaws within the societies. As an outsider, John sees some of the paradoxes that exist in the New World. Upon coming to the New World, John sees religious influence in certain objects and customs although Mustapha Mond says that religion has become unnecessary.
Mond claims that the society is “independent of God,” (p. 3) however there are still strong undertones of religious sanctity and ritual within the society. In essence, the sign of the T that is made with reverence is the same ritual as crossing oneself with the sign of the cross. The symbolism of the T in accordance to Ford may be in honor of the assembly line and efficiency that produced the Model T. The very act of crossing oneself with a T over the stomach, as opposed to the heart, implies that the act is performed in homage to greed and desire. Another seemingly religious act is the usage of the word “Ford.
As with the T, the word “Ford” is connected to Henry Ford and is used as a term of expression or blasphemy. The word is used throughout the text in the exact same context that the old society uses “Lord” or “God. ” And, it just so happens that the word “Ford” rhymes with the word “Lord,” which further relates the two sayings. Within the New World, the rites of the Solidarity Group resemble the Christian communion rites. The President begins the ceremony, as would a priest, with a hymn and begins passing the communal cup of soma along to the members of the Group.
As soon as the passing of the soma cup is finished, the presence of the “Greater Being,” (p. 83) is felt and madness begins. As the tension builds and builds the loyalty towards Ford builds up to an orgasmic peak of intensity with chanting and dancing in the name of Ford, soon a “rich and living peace” (p. 85) is reached. Similar to those feelings that the Holy Spirit would bring upon a member of the Christian church, the ritual of the Solidarity Group makes everyone “full… perfect, [and] still more than merely” themselves (p. 85).
Another paradox about the supposed lack of religion in the New World is the fact that My Life and Work by Our Ford is designed to look like the Bible. My Life and Work is bound in a “limp black leather-surrogate and stamped with large golden T’s” (p. 217-18) which when compared to the appearance of many Bibles, is strikingly similar. The usage of word “limp” to describe the book implies that it has been read numerous times and is an old, cherished book. And by simply stating that “large golden T’s” are stamped on the book signify importance and even a bit of extravagance.
The placement of the book is also significant because by being “under the window” (p. 217) it allows the book to bask in the light. In the Christian religion, light is symbolically linked to the truth and purity; therefore, if the two societies are as similar as they seem to be, it is only fair to assume that My Life and Work is a well-read religiously themed book that is basking in the purifying light. John enters the new with the idea that it is a perfect society.
Linda had constantly raved about the New World and glorified that “nobody was ever alone there” (p. 7). However, John loses his identity as a person and becomes the Savage. As soon as John enters the New World, he is never referred to as “John,” but instead as “The Savage. ” Along with being stripped of himself, John also is appreciated only as an object of interest for others. Everyone seems to “forget all about the savage” as soon as the soma is distributed, (209. ) John cannot stand the constantly repetitive faces of the lover Bokanovsky Group castes and refers to them as “maggots,” (209.
In a fit of rage, John begins repeating his phrases and ironically shouts “oh, brave new world” five times (p. 209-10). John also repeats the word “twin” twice (p. 209) and increases the intensity of the presence of the twins. By visually placing “twins, twins” together, the actual presence and annoyance of them can be felt by the reader. Another aspect that John fights with in the New World is that he does not see that words like freedom have no meaning to any caste. After repeating the word (or a form or) freedom eight times, his audience has no reaction but confusion.
However, the words that do create a profound impact are those of that they are accustomed to hearing: “happy and good,” (p. 215). It is also important as to who is speaking. The frantic John has no impact on the castes, but the “angelic voice” with a “non existent heart” can wield the masses into a “comprehensive embrace,” (p. 215). The reasoning for the new society’s confusion at John’s words is that they do not understand any literature, and especially books like Shakespeare’s.
Seeing as John was raised on the words of Shakespeare, it is incomprehensible for him to understand that the new society “cannot be attracted to old things,” (p. 215). As John discovers, “Nothing costs enough here. ” Social stability has caused man to lose his spirit. In this society, “every change is a menace to stability” (p. 224) and one “can’t make tragedies without social instability. ” In a world like this, there seems to be no hope for change. Even though The Controller admits to Helmholtz that “I like your spirit as much as I officially disapprove of it,” (p. 9) it is a private admiration that will never have the courage to let itself be known to the obeying public.
By trying to preach to the new society about freedom, John became a martyr in a society where there should be no martyrs. John essentially fulfilled his desire to be sacrificed when he realized that “they might be killed if he didn’t help them, and that he might be killed if he did,” (p. 214). Essentially, John became a figure similar to Jesus Christ in a society that refused to admit His presence. Sadly, the cost of a life was not enough to change a stubborn society.