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Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

Third Person (Omniscient)

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley is a fan of giving his readers a ton of information. As such, the point of view is incredibly omniscient. That is, we get to know everything about every character – even the subconscious stuff they don't realize themselves. Check this out: "He knew that what he was saying was absurd in its injustice […]. But in spite of this knowledge […] Bernard continued perversely to nourish […] a secret grievance against the Savage." And we get this sort of psychoanalysis for most of the major characters in the text. That's omniscience for you.


One more thing. Take another look at Chapter One. You start off with an objective, detached description of the "squat, grey building of […] thirty-four stories." Easy enough. But before you know it, you're getting the Director's words without any quotations or "he said" tags. Observe:


"Bokanovsky's Process," repeated the Director, and the students underlined the words in their little notebooks.


One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.


"Essentially," the Director concluded, "bokanovskification consists…"


What's going on with that paragraph in the middle? Why doesn't it have quotes around it? It's easy to think that the narrative voice reveals this information. But in fact, the paragraph is part of the Director's speech, it's just that we're not explicitly told as much.


This is actually a nifty grammatical technique called "Implied Indirect Discourse," though you usually only hear the term when you learn Latin or Greek. The label is less complicated than it sounds. Start with "discourse." Discourse = speech. If you've got a sentence that reads, "Marie said 'hello,'" then "hello" is the discourse. Indirect means no quotations, so your sentence would say, "Marie said hello." "Hello" is now your indirect discourse. IMPLIED indirect discourse is indirect discourse without the little "Marie said" tag. The tag is implied. No quotes = indirect discourse. No quotes and no tags = implied indirect discourse, which is what you have going on in the early chapters of Brave New World.



Brave New World Writing Style

Precise, Taunting

By "taunting" style, we're actually referring to the way that Huxley delays the disclosure of important information. For example, in Bernard's orgy-porgy scene, we don't really know it's an orgy until two thirds of the way through. Even then, we're never explicitly told what's up – we're just given enough info to put two and two together ourselves. The same goes with the orgy scene at the end, where we don't know if John has sex with Lenina or not, but we're left with enough clues to make a reasonable assumption. And look how we find out about John's death. The whole time the visitors are calling his name, we think he's dead, but we're being taunted with the prospect of a cash-in moment when all will be revealed. The revelation itself is also telling. Instead of saying that John is dead, the text just shows us his dead hanging feet (attached presumably to his dead, hanging body).


Precision of language in Brave New World is a beautiful example of form matching function. Huxley describes a society in which scientific exactitude is everything: eighty-eight cubic meters of index cards, 267 days for the bottles to travel along the conveyor belt at 33 centimeters per hour, etc. Similarly, the language of the novel itself is almost as precise. Check this out: "That which had made Helmholtz so uncomfortably aware of being himself and all alone was too much ability. What the two men shared was the knowledge that they were individuals. But whereas the physically defective Bernard had suffered all his life from the consciousness of being separate, it was only quite recently that, grown aware of his mental excess, Helmholtz Watson had also become aware of his difference from the people who surrounded him." Exact enough for you? This language has as much control over displays of emotion, thoughts, and opinions as the World Controllers have over centimeters, days, and grams.



Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1912

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