What is worth reading and why? The Ecole Bilingue Middle School Independent Reading blog
Sophie M-G8eBrave new World Prediction EssayBrave new World seemed like a good book to choose, because its not the sort of thing I’m used to reading. I usually get books that were written after the year 2000, and I never really look under ‘science fiction’ when I’m at a library, so to read a science fiction book published in 1932 seemed like a good change in my literary life. Another big reason I started reading this might be because of my mom. She keeps telling me to read extremely old books (which sound a bit boring) but after hearing a summary of ‘Brave new World’ I thought I may as well give it a shot. After reading the first chapter, I got a pretty good sense of the book. It started with a scene at a clone factory, making thousands and thousands of clones out of one embryo. But I’d have to say, the part that really caught my eye was when they separated these clones into different categories, the main ones being Alpha and Beta. The government would give the lower clones brain damage so that the only thing they could do was work at factory’s. By reading this, I could already tell that this is a story about the government having absolute power over everyone and everything. I would definitely expect the clones to have a revolution of some sort, because of the way they were mistreated. And even if it isn’t a revolution, I would expect at least one clone to find some sort of information on the government and try to stop it. I’m also bracing myself for the sudden death of the main character because of the weapons the government may have.
Class Discussion During class, we mostly talked about the government described in 'Brave new World' and the similarities and differences it has with our current government. This was a pretty interesting subject because the book was written a long time ago, and some of the aspects on the government and our lives now was something we could refer to. For example, we already know that the government is gaining more and more power, and nowadays it is possible to make clones. Another thing described in the book, was the clone workers in the factory that were made with brain damage so all they could do was work. We also compared that with the system we have now in the big factories where the workers (kids and grown ups) work 12 hours a day and get no education just like some of the clones in the book. (Elliott, Connor, Sophie)
Elliott Hansen 8EBrave New World I want to read Brave New World because based on what I’ve heard about it, it seems like a good, interesting book that I would like. I like this kind of book, futuristic science-fiction, predictions of the future. It seems really interesting, and even if it is a difficult book, I still want to read it.From the twenty or so pages I have read so far, it seems like a very technical view of the future, with everything being controlled, nearly nothing like it was before. Human interaction is very limited and rare. So far, it doesn’t seem like anything fast-paced at all will happen, or it will have anything comedic at all, unlike most books I usually read. I’m not sure if I will enjoy it or not, because I haven’t read that much yet. I can’t really be sure what the book will be about in the end, because I’ve only read twenty pages.Overall, I really think it will be all about the government, power and control. So far, it doesn’t seem like much will happen, but I’m sure that will change as I advance into the book. It’s definitely different from what I have read before, and I’m not sure if I will like it or not.
Connor Burns 8EBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyI chose this book honestly because I thought it was the best book for my reading level and I am a fan of alternate worlds where it is different from our own world. When I first saw this book it seemed like it would be a interesting read, not necessarily a fun read but a interesting one. After reading the first 25 pages I am extremely bored, it seems to go nowhere and thus far all it has done is talk about made up science that doesn’t exist in this world at the moment. It does however give us a nice idea of how the culture is by the way they talk about cloning and how they find it perfectly normal to starve some embryos of oxygen so they will be dumber and then become the worker slave class. I do continue to have high hopes for this book though even though in my opinion it has been off to a slow start. I don’t know where this book will take me but i have a good feeling about it and can’t wait to get past the beginning.
In our lit circle, we summarized the part we had to read, and explained certain things that we didn't understand. Then we started talking about the specific intricacies that Brave New World has. We talked about how all the different types of citizens are bred to hate all the other types and how stereotypes are actually implanted at birth. Then Ms. Campbell explained that one of the names in the story, Lenina, refers to Lenin and how why communism is important in the book. We also remarked that all citizens are taught to “end it not mend it” which shows the emphasis on mass-production.
Brave New World Predictions and Reasons I chose Brave New World because it seemed to cover topics that I was interested in like over population, the way humans interact with each other and some psychological ideas. It also seemed interesting because of this idea of cloning that they have, and problems with mass-production, it also touched on some ideas that were somewhat expressed in the book Feed which was another book that I enjoyed.I have a feeling that this novel will be about how this system that the world is using at that time will break and or someone will find a way to break from the system and it will cause a ripple throughout the world. Or maybe it will delve deeper into cloning and we’ll see problems that can arise from mass production. The first two chapters of the book sets up the background about this cloning idea. How society is no longer mass producing products but instead, humans. And how based on how much oxygen they give these embryos, the embryos either become Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas or Epsilons. Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons are the social hierarchy that has developed in this society. So later on in the story they might tell us more about that hierarchy.
I chose the book because honestly, I don't really enjoy reading, and therefore I don't know very many books, and the select few I do know of are usually easy. When I read them for school, I get a bad grade for choosing an easy book and not doing that great of a job on the assignment. After realizing this, I decided to ask you for a hard book. I got a hard book that seems pretty good and that is why i chose Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.I think that Brave New World is going to be a book about an alternate world or maybe it is in the future. I think it is going to be about a world where humans, or whatever the human race’s evolved form is, is going to live in a more “perfect” world, where things have been optimized for maximum efficiency. Also, I think that a lot of the book is going to be about the imperfections of this “perfect” that could be avoided if these new found techniques for improvement hadn’t been implemented. I think there might be a group or character that has realized it and is now striving for change back to a better society.
Brave New World Prediction Essay / Reason for Choosing the Book Initially I had thought of choosing to read Brave New World because I was curious how Huxley would describe his idea of a utopian community in which the principle of mass-production has been applied to biology, the production of human clones. I also thought the scientific aspects of the book – which I assumed would be very, or at least somewhat accurate – would blend interestingly with the fictional aspects in Huxley’s novel. The first two chapters of the book outline the structure of this strange envisionment of our world in the future. I appreciated the the attention to detail, the curiosity behind the various scientific terms, and the roles they played. These first chapters, though they were only introductory chapters, left me curious, thinking of how the principles of human mass-production, and the knowledge of how to determine the intelligence of a human being fascinated me, left me thinking. This curiosity towards Huxleys futuristic utopia is why I want to continue reading Brave New World. Based of the first few chapters, one can infer that the mass-production of humans is still a developing system. So one can also infer that there must be humans, other than Alphas, who remain capable of learning new things, moving between social and intellectual standings. These non-clones, I believe, will at some point, play an important role in the story’s plot. I also think these “real” people could possibly be the one minority in this seemingly perfect system, a.k.a the plot. Seeing as the Alphas are also capable of learning and thought, the plot could also center itself around an Alpha – perhaps – gone rogue, or who begins to question the system, grow curious of human life before clones. Another possibility is that the error in the system could be the system. These possible outcomes are my predictions for the books development.
Lit Circle day 2 During class, we mostly talked about the new characters that were introduced in the story and the way they acted in society which was different from what we would consider as normal behavior. For example, Fanny, a girl which we assume to be an Alpha or Beta, was supposedly a good example towards Lenina (another Alpha/Beta) because she tells her it is okay to be unfaithful-no, that she should be unfaithful. Being unfaithful is to 'own' someone (going out with someone) when you already 'own' another, which is okay in the book since “everyone belongs to everyone”. Elliott, Connor, Sophie.
Brave New World Day 2: During our day two discussion of Brave New World we discussed chapters 4 and 5 as well as symbolisms and subtleties that could help us better understand the novel. We explored the symbolism of characters names and found that most of them were based of important figures and/or relating to the Soviet Union. For example "Lenina" derives from the surname Vladimir Lenin, a leader of the Soviet Union, and her surname “Crowne" is from "crown," which represents monarchic government. In our group we also talked about symbols in Brave New World like music (allows the leaders to control through rhythm), soma (sleep in Latin, “Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant”, another way of keeping populace in control) ... During day 2 we also compared the book’s world to our own and tried seeing the book from someone who lived when it was first published (1932). For example, the world in which they live in – in sorts – relies on mass-production and then the mass-consumption of these products. Today mass-consumption is more relevant than ever, so when reading the book this idea of over consuming doesn’t seem quite as odd as it may have in the early 1930. We also discussed the oddities and normalities in chapters 4 and 5. Then, using some subtle quotes from the previous chapters, came to a unanimous prediction that Bernard – who is unaffected by soma and is more of an outcast – would attempt to break free from the system.
There is so much to discuss when you begin to see any book as a mirror on society of the time of publication. For instance, the BNW female characters wear short skirts. Short skirts were a fad and a novelty in the 20s- a sign of rebellion. However, hem-lines dropped to the ankle after the Great Depression (Oct. 1929) and remained there until the end of the 30s. Huxley's vision was in his era visionary but contrary. And that isn't even considering the Malthusian belt. (Research Malthus before you discuss the belt.) Note: mass consumption was a possibility in the 20s, but clearly not an option in the Depression when no one had money to buy much. Follow this link for more on BNW's historical context: http://www.westirondequoit.org/ihs/library/brave.html
Elliott Hansen 8EIn our third lit circle, we talked about why they want to keep birth, if you can call it that, so controlled in the future, and we decided it was mostly about control over the child. They want every aspect of the baby to be made exactly how they want, so that it fits perfectly in their extremely controlled society. We also talked a lot about how, in the future, they say “Everyone belongs to everyone.” We decided that this probably means that they don't want people to get too attached to others, to keep people from having any real emotions, because emotions are too uncontrollable.
Could their open polyamory also be a way for individuals to always feel included? If they are programmed to feel so open to anyone, then there is no loneliness...unless you are aware that the programming exists in the first place like Bernard is. Is their exclusion of a mother figure designed to re-program an individual's attachment so that it is less monogamous? What do you think of Huxley's critique of traditional family relationships?
Brave New World Day 3: During our day three discussion of Brave New World we discussed chapters 7-8, as well as a few questions about the chapters on motives and relationships, and where the name of the novel comes from, and how this piece of information is portrayed in the book. The title derives from a quote in Shakespeare’s the Tempest. This is portrayed when, John, one of few unique humans, quotes a line from The Tempest to express his feelings of joy at finally getting to see the “Other World” that he had heard about as a child: “O brave new world that has such people in it.” Then, we talked about our predictions from day three that Bernard – who is unaffected by soma and is more of an outcast – would attempt to break free from the system and whether we thought we had predicted correctly or falsely and why. We also discussed and came up with possible answers for the questions “Why does John want to go with Bernard to expose that Thomas (a.k.a Tomakin) has a son?” (He wants to go to the “Other Place”, he wants to see his father, he too possibly wants to corrupt the system to cease the alienation...) and “Why Bernard wants to tear down the system?” ( Because he is often thought of as an outcast and wishes to cease the alienation, because he feels that the system is already corrupt, because he feels that the leaders have too much power over the people...). Lastly we discussed some quotes, went over the oddities, and talked about the romantic tension between Lenina and John and why or why not their relation would work / fail.
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Brave New World, Adrien H, Nathaniel, Axel, and Max S.During our discussion of Brave New World, we conversed over chapters 1-6. The first 6 chapters are basically portraying how people are literally "made", so there wasn't much to talk about. Since Axel has only read up to page 70 (about) we could not get into the main storyline of Brave New World. However, we did discuss ominous quotes such as "ending is better than mending" and "the more stitches the less riches" the maxims drilled into the head of children as part of their"conditioning". As we conferred over these sayings, we got into the effects and meaning of "Hyponaedia" or sleep teaching. Unfortunately we could only discuss the scientific part of the book and we couldn't get into the main storyline to avoid accidentally spoiling Axel's "reading experience"
Lit Circle Blog Post 4Today we talked about Aldous Huxley's vision of the future and compared it to our world now. We also asked ourselves whether we think our future will be similar to the one described in the book, which we completely disagreed to because we already have all the technology described in the book, but we don't abuse it as the book would assume. We also placed ourselves in the setting of the book and talked about whether we would enjoy this future or what social rank we would rather be in judging on the roles that the characters played in the book. Surprisingly, most of us decided we wanted to be Beta's, because they are considered as normal citizens whom don't have to work to hard but aren't considered as an extremely low worker rank. Another thing we asked ourselves was 'Why do they keep the natives in the preserve where they do everything society is against? Why not just make them like any other clone?' we decided that the government used the natives as a warning to everyone who tried to go against the ways of society. They criticize the natives and call them disgusting so no one gets influenced. Elliott, Connor and Sophie.
Adrien H, Max S, Nathaniel, AxelToday in our literary circle we basically searched the internet for political/social/historical etc... references that we may have missed during our first reading of Brave New World. Adrien and I have finished the book while Axel has read up to page 117, so we could discuss the book up until about chapter 7 to avoid spoiling Axel's reading experience. That means we conversed over the first 40 pages of the story since the first 70 pages are describing the process in which babies are literally "made". On the internet, our main informatory site was "spark notes" which was a very frank site and had no problem explaining some of the more "mature" parts of the book. Thankfully, it also gave us some essential questions to confer and dispute over. However, we did not find any "hidden meanings" or "insinuated historical remarks" that we thought we may have missed, thus concluding day 2 of literary squares (in our case)
Overall none of us would want to live in the world of Brave New World. Everyone is everyone, no one is unique. Mass production and also how everyone believes what the media tells them are the things that our world and the world in Brave New World have in common. In chapter 12 we see how shallow Bernard is, all the power of bringing back a “savage” gets to his head and he starts to like the world he grew to hate, just because he’s important and not ostracized. The power also makes him stupid and pompous since in one of his papers he basically lectures Mustapha Mond. Lenina seems to be attracted to John and only John, possibly emotions of love which people in their society aren’t supposed to feel. In summation Lenina is drifting away from the ways of their society as well as Bernard and Hemholtz.
Today, we decided to take a full reading period so that members who were behind in the reading could catch up.
This class, our literary square talked about Lenina's desire to have sex with John and how he wants his relationship with Lenina to be more meaningful then she makes it out to be. We compared this to how in the beginning, Bernard was also hesitant with Lenina and wanted it all to mean more, similarly to John. We also talked about how since Bernard became popular, he's become more like everybody else and more like what he was fighting against in the first place. We talked about how right when Bernard is humiliated when John does not want to come out, he runs back to his buddy Hemholtz Watson for advice and how Watson immediately forgives him for being so mean. Finally we discussed how death means so little in Brave New World and that people just think of it as people being burned up for a profit.
Brave New World Day 4: SomaDuring our day 4 discussion of Brave New World, we discussed the effects (so far) of soma and why it is so loosely distributed / given. We believe that Soma is so loosely distributed because it keeps the clones oblivious as to how controlled their lives actually are. Soma also substitutes many of the things that could give these people originality, which is strictly discourage in this society. We also discussed these things that soma have been created to substitute to keep the clones unoriginal, working constantly, and in complete control of the D.H.C. These things are religion and emotion (see quotes below). Finally after discussing the chapters we had read and doing a short read-aloud we searched through the book and found several quotes about soma:"All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.""..there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon...""Benito was notoriously good-natured. People said of him that he could have got through life without ever touching soma. The malice and bad tempers from which other people had to take holidays never afflicted him. Reality for Benito was always sunny.""you do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma.""Soma was served with the coffee. Lenina took two half-gramme tablets and Henry three.""the warm, the richly colored, the infinitely friendly world of soma-holiday. How kind, how good-looking, how delightfully amusing every one was! ""Swallowing half an hour before closing time, that second dose of soma had raised a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds.""The service had begun. The dedicated soma tablets were placed in the centre of the table. The loving cup of strawberry ice-cream soma was passed from hand to hand and, with the formula, "I drink to my annihilation," twelve times quaffed.""By this time the soma had begun to work. Eyes shone, cheeks were flushed, the inner light of universal benevolence broke out on every face in happy, friendly smiles. Even Bernard felt himself a little melted.""I don't understand anything," she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. "Nothing. Least of all," she continued in another tone "why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be jolly. So jolly,"“Was and will make me ill,I take a gram and only am."
Brave New World Day 6: During our day two discussion of Brave New World we discussed chapter 13 and did a read-aloud of chapter 14. We discussed the emotions trapped between Lenina and John who, though they both like each other, have completely different point of views on emotion and what a normal relationship is; Lenina is a twin and John is a normal human. For normal humans, liking someone is much different. And for Lenina liking only one person is a disparate concept than the “free love” she is used to. When Lenina tries to move the relationship forward so quickly, John reacts harshly, calling her a “Whore!” He reacts this way because he doesn’t understand the principles of what a normal relationship is to Lenina. She doesn’t understand that he wants to know her, to establish a relationship, where as the only relationship she understands is a sexual relationship. “I wanted to to do something first ... to show you I was worthy,” John says. Julian then brought up the interesting point “since they’ve met it’s been like a role-reversal,” that, since they’ve arrived in the “other world”, John and Lenina have swapped social standings. Lenina went from being liked, to being thought of as odd for expressing emotion. Whereas John, who was initially a misfit, has gotten nothing, but more popular. We also started making comparisons between our world and the novels society, mainly about the fast-paced world we live in. In the book every item of clothing has zippers because buttons “waste precious time of nakedness”. This shows that they live in a very fast-paced society, one that may have seemed especially odd in the 1930’s when this book was first published. The fast-paced, technology ruled aspects of this world very much relate to our world in the sense that modern technology is beginning to replace many things (paper books, CD’s and vinyl, correspondence through letter...) because we as consumers have become so used to wanting more and having things do stuff for us, faster with emails and cellular and the inter-webs.
Since yesterday some people did not find the time to read with their correspondents, we decided to take another reading period.
Book Talk #7 Today we talked about Bernard's changes in attitude after he introduced John and Helmholtz together and his jealousy towards their friendship. Some of us thought it was normal for him to be jealous because of the attention he wasn't getting from his friends like he usually did, but other decided he was a bad person for trying to ruin their friendship out of jealousy. We also had a little debate on wether Lenina's love for John was real or not. We concluded that her desire for him was only out of looks and not personality because John could be cruel to Lenina (in her point of view) like calling her such names that were not usually used in that society. We also came upon the question “What would happen if their world ran out of soma?” we all agreed that everyone would lose their sanity and the only survivors of this possible uprising would be the natives (possibly the only people that don't take soma) Elliott, Connor, Sophie.
Today we talked about the essential questions of Brave New World. We especially talked about what Brave New World's similarities and differences to our present society. We also started talking about our final project, which we decided would be a poster. We also started a google doc that we will write our paragraphs on. We also prepared our recorded lit circle discussion.
Today we talked about some of the main question and some main quotes of Brave New World. On pages 1-90We started the discussion with Maia asking her first EQ: What happens to the kids once they grow old? When Maia first started reading the book, she didn’t know, but after reading farther into the book she learns that they are raised to grow up working in factories. Then Addison proceeded to state an important quote that William had given to us:“Everyone belongs to everyone else.” p.46 . When the book says everyone belongs to everyone else, we think that author is trying to imply that you aren’t free. It implies that you an object and you can’t be who you want to be. This also relates to farther in the book on page 90: “Don’t you want to be free, Lenina?” Bernard says to Lenina. Maia thinks that Bernard is different from everyone else. He is the only one that realizes their state, and is trying to share with Lenina his emotions because he wants to be free with her. However, Lenina does not understand. She thinks that she is in a perfect society just as all the other kids think. Maia poses her next EQ: is the director trying to help the kids? We think no. He wants to make the world a better place by using these children. However to make the world a better place he has to remove ownership. Then, Maia asks why are the students ranked? Addison believe that it’s to keep the balance in the peace. If everyone was the same rank, then people with the low end jobs would revolt. Maia and Addison had a thorough conversation and advanced a lot. Unfortunately, William wasn’t here to participate in our discussion, however he did supply us with his quotes via email. We didn’t have time to finish, so we are looking forward to continuing this discussion with him next week.
Discussion #2:Addison: what are our thoughts on the Savage reservation? Similarities to real world? ; Histoire - Geo studied poor vs rich country differences; We all see a strong connection ; William thinks it is an extreme ; not taken by surprise when see poverty in real world Huxley’s interpretation thinks that people will be super surprised and have never seen people from the reservations.P.106 “‘What’s the matter with him?’ whispered Lenina . Her eyes were wide with horror and amazement. ‘He’s old that's all.’”Savage reservation like a time capsule; first time seeing old people; what the world was like before. Why do they still have the savage reservation; never told. Maia asks: what does the director see in the future? Maia questions his goals; we see that he is trying to make a “perfect” world. Everyone has a job and everyone does their job “perfectly”. Does anyone “own” or “possess” anything; no homes, no kids, no family. Everyone belongs to everyone. Sexually and maybe just in general. Relates to quote:“‘Try to imagine what ‘living with one’s family’ meant.’They tried; but obviously without the smallest success.‘And do you know what a ‘home’ was?’They shook their heads.” p.42Are people shaped by their community or do they have their own personalities. We agreed that no.Soma a drug that makes everything perfect ; basically no side effects.John talks about marriage but Lenina laughs at it takes by surprise and is offended. “John laughed out of pure joy.” p. 130We think that he will then go on to loving Lenina.Do people outside of reservations know what freedom is. - “Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?” p. 90- “I don’t know what you mean. I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everyone is happy nowadays.” p.90Addison says no.William agrees.Maia agrees.Soma isn’t freedom; it’s just a substitute to make you feel free and always happy says Maia and William.
Discussion #3Main Ideas to talk about in Lit circle 3Why does the reoccurring idea of sex show up so much?WV - I think Huxley’s use of sex is his way of showing weakness in mankind, and his way of showing us that literally everyone belongs to everyone. MJ: I agree with William, I think that this is Huxley’s way of showing the lack of humanity and feelings the children/people have.Why is there a shakespeare book still in existence? Could this be a link to our world?WV - Shakespeare wrote his stories about 500 years ago, and they are still some of the most popular and famous pieces of literature, it could just show that Huxley was a good fan of Shakespeare, or that the world in Brave New World is still similar to the one we live in today. MJ - I agree with William that this could be Huxley’s way of showing that Shakespeare has inspired him, and of showing what a talented writer Shakespeare was.Why are they in denial of death? How does this affect their community?WV - I think they are in denial of death because it shows humanity the weaknesses in humanity. This also disrupts their “system”. This affects their community, because nothing new ever really happens. MJ - Again, I agree with William. I definitely agree that this shows the human’s weakness and disrupts their “perfect society/system.” What does their Utopia cost them? No disease or illness?WV - Well, their utopia doesn’t allow them to have real freedom. Sure they may think they do but they don’t. Nor do they know true happiness is, they just have soma to make them think they ate happy.MJ - I would think that it’s a dystopia, because even though the characters inside of the society think that it’s a perfect world, it isn’t. It’s a world without freedom and emotions. I think that they do have illness, but they just hide it with soma.