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Brave New World
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World is one of the most famous dystopian satires in the English language. Set in a society given completely over to pleasure and consumerism, it is both humorous and chilling, and ultimately raises questions about what makes us human. Although there are no explicit descriptions of sexual acts, promiscuous sex is the norm, and there is a violent orgy. There is also a suicide. Citizens of the World State take a tranquilizing, hallucinatory drug called soma, and on an Indian reservation, residents drink mescal and use peyote during tribal initiations.
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What's the story?
In the far future, humanity has become almost completely dissociated from the process of reproduction. Fetuses are developed in bottles, cloned and treated with chemicals to produce infants that will fit within rigidly structured caste systems. Marriage and motherhood are unheard of. Citizens do their jobs and then relax by indulging in promiscuous sex, elaborate games, and doses of tranquilizing, hallucinatory \"soma.\" When John, a \"savage\" from an Indian reservation in what was once New Mexico, is brought to Central London, he must reconcile his beliefs with those of a bewildering, responsibility-free society.
Is it any good?
Along with George Orwell's 1984, this chilling novel is one of the most famous dystopian science-fiction novels in the English language. Aldous Huxley envisions a future where a person's destiny is determined through in vitro fertilization and prenatal treatments, leading to adulthoods ruled by consumerism and aimless sex. Although originally a critique of social trends in the 1930s, the novel is still funny, disturbing, and relevant for today's readers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how well author Aldous Huxley predicted the future when he wrote Brave New World in 1932. Was he only imagining the future, or was he also commenting upon trends at the time of the novel's publication?
Why do you think Henry Ford is viewed as a kind of prophet by the citizens of the World State? What satirical point was Huxley trying to make with this choice?
Why do you think Huxley has John quote Shakespeare so often in the novel? And why do you think Huxley chose to quote Shakespeare's play The Tempest in the book's title?
Why do you think Brave New World continues to be read and taught in high school and college literature courses?
Themes & Topics
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