How would one react switching from contemporary America to utopia? How would one feel relying on a drug called soma to live life, to be happy? The perfect world is what is Aldous Huxley brings to reality in his novel Brave New World. He uses various types of characters to walk one through the glamorous side of the brave new world, as well as its struggles. He also uses John, a savage who represents contemporary America, to emphasize the struggles of this world. One might fantasize about endless happiness, and life full of all fun and play, but as the savage finds out all cannot be fun and games.
Soma came into being after the Nine Year’s war and the worldwide economic collapse. The controllers knew they had to stabilize society, to take all pain out of life. So, they created the perfect drug, it is described as “Christianity without tears’” (244) by Mustapha Mond. Starting off as infants people are exposed to this “euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant,” (53). They are conditioned to take it whenever they feel anything other than happiness. This perfect drug not only impairs one’s judgment but also gives one a vacation from reality. Take half a gramme for half a holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the East, and three for a dark eternity on the moon (55). Although being considered the perfect drug, it does have its flaws.
Lenina, a civilian of this new world, seems to be completely reliant on soma as seen when, Bernard Marx and her take a trip to a Savage Reservation. While on this trip Lenina forgets her soma in the rest house, leaving her to face the horrors of the Reservation unaided. She is horrified and disgusted when she sees a mother breastfeeding her child, when she sees an old man missing teeth, and even a young boy being whipped. Faced with these horrors she continues to wine and complain about he not having her soma, constantly saying “I wish I had my soma,” (117). Later on they came across a boy named John, when he took them to his mother, Linda, Lenina was completely revolted by her appearance. Linda was born in a bottle, conditioned, and raised in the brave new world but on her trip to the savage reservation she fell and got left behind. After living and having a baby at the reservation, she had only missed one thing about utopia and that was her soma. She could not take any vacations, and was forced to live in this horrifying place.
Growing up in the reservation would give one completely different views on soma. John had always fantasized about what it might be like living in the brave new world based on his mom’s stories of life there. Bernard offered to take John and his mother back, and introduce them to the director who was John’s father. When they got there, Linda lay in bed and slowly killed herself off of her soma vacations. While John participated in feelies, parties, and dances but he refused to partake in soma. After being exposed to it several times he realized how pathetic people acted when they were on soma. He was determined to make people see the wrong in soma, but the controller did not agree with this. So, John was sent to the lighthouse to avoid any interactions with him and the civilians so he could not poison their minds any further. At the lighthouse John whipped himself because he could not be happy due to his mom’s death. A group of civilians came to watch the spectacle, which aroused them and caused them to riot. The controllers, in an effort to contain this, sprayed soma turning the riot into a public orgy. John ends up unwillingly partaking in this due to an accidental intake of soma. When the soma wears off he realizes what he did and with an overwhelming feeling of guilt he hung himself because of what he did.
One can see that there is no such thing as a perfect drug, there will be some flaws. Such as the addictiveness of this drug, one becomes reliant on it whenever they feel upset or angry or even just because they feel like they need it. This drug messes with your head as well, if you were not raised on it your mind acted differently on it as seen by John. These shows how the author believes that these savages, also known as contemporary America, would not be able to survive this perfect and if exposed would eventually destroy themselves.