John The Savage Essay, Research Paper
John The Savage
A curious mixture of the “old” world and the “new,” John does not belong to either. He is not accepted by the Savages on the Reservation because he is “different,” and he cannot and will not accept the life and values of the Other Place (London). Like Bernard, Helmholtz, and Linda, he doesn’t belong – he is an alien, a misfit, a “mistake.”
John is the most important character in the book because he acts as a bridge between the two cultures, and having known both “ways of life” he is able to compare them and comment on them. His beliefs and values are a curious mixture of Christian and heathen, of “Jesus and Pookong,” but, most important, he has a strict moral code. His “old fashioned” beliefs about God and right and wrong (his beliefs closely duplicate Christian morality) contrast sharply with the values and beliefs of the citizens of the Brave New World (”God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness”). It is this conflict between the two value systems that ultimately brings about his suicide.
When we are first introduced to John and the Reservation Huxley makes us aware of the moral conflict, but he also makes us aware of the social and emotional conflicts. The social conflict results from his not belonging on the Reservation; his mother was the white she-dog despised by the Savages. The emotional conflict results from the attraction and repulsion he feels towards his mother – he loves her but finds her promiscuity revolting. And, too her stories of the Other Place (London) fill him with wonder and a vague discontent.
The arrival at the Reservation of Bernard and Lenina and the Savage’s subsequent arrival in London contribute to the conflict he already feels. John is attracted to Lenina but feels that such lustful feelings are wrong and must be repressed; Lenina is attracted to John and cannot understand the Savage’s reticence and unwillingness to show any interest in her. Finally when John protests his love and expresses his desire to marry her, Lenina considers such an entanglement absurd and scoffs at the idea. But John is unable to put her out of his mind. His love for her finally breeds hatred, and when this hate turns inward upon himself, the Savage hangs himself.
Like the others in this novel, the character of the Savage is not believable. (Huxley was not interested in creating characters; he was interested in expressing ideas.) The Savage speaks too intelligently and reasons too well for one whose education consisted of reading a few books and talking to practitioners of a combination fertility – Penitente cult. Huxley himself admitted the inconsistency. But if we accept John simply as a spokesman in another of Huxley’s novels of ideas, he is more than satisfactory.
Because Brave New World is both fantasy and satire, Huxley’s characters are both fantastic and satirical. They are exaggerated because the year is A.F. 632; they offer a caustic commentary because more often than not they express what we must recognize are twentieth century viewpoints. At this time (1931) Huxley was completely disillusioned with mankind and with its choice of values or lack of values – he saw no hope for man’s ultimate salvation of himself. He expresses his pessimism by offering no glimmer of hope in his novel. None of his characters is able to change or to bring about change.