Summary and Analysis Chapter 15



In the hospital vestibule, John sees Deltas lining up for their soma ration. "O brave new world" rings hollowly in his head.

Suddenly inspired, John calls to the Deltas to give up the drug. When they fail to respond, John seizes the soma and throws it out the window, causing a riot among the Deltas.

Bernard and Helmholtz arrive to save John, and they become involved in the riot themselves. When the police come, they arrest John as well as Bernard and Helmholtz.


This short, but eventful chapter highlights the change in John's perception of the dystopia that will bring about the action propelling the novel toward its conclusion.

Twice earlier, John has quoted the line from Shakespeare's play The Tempest, in which Miranda, in awe, contemplates people from the outside world she has never before seen: "O brave new world / That has such people in it!" The first quotation, in Chapter 5, following John's meeting with Bernard and Lenina in Malpais, is straightforward and joyous. The second quotation, in Chapter 8, occurs when John sees several identical Bokanovsky groups working in a factory. Here, John delivers the line ironically, as an expression of his physical disgust at inhuman sameness.

In this chapter, John sees Delta adults lining up for their soma ration, and their identical features again appall him. Once more he repeats the quotation, but now the words seems to command him to change the dystopian world into the beautiful ideal he once believed it to be.

In John's sudden inspiration to action, Huxley validates the World State's belief that uncensored literature (the lines from The Tempest) and intense emotion — John's sorrow at his mother's death and his disgust at the Delta children in the ward and the Delta adults lined up for soma — can result in social unrest. John's surprising call to the Deltas to turn away from soma strikes — at least potentially — at the heart of social stability. The Deltas unsurprising fury when John throws the soma out the window actually causes a riot, the simplest and most direct form of social instability. Only a soma vapor and soothing (anti-revolutionary) words applied immediately can stop the unrest.

Note again, when faced with the confused resistance of the dystopian mind — Lenina's puzzlement at his wooing, the Deltas' resentment at his cries for freedom — John begins with poetry, moves to name-calling, and finally resorts to violence. Frustration and anger boil within John whenever he encounters anyone who does not understand his values and vocabulary.

In this, John is far from a villain, but he is not really a hero, either. Malpais and Shakespeare have sown the seeds of violent fury in him, as well as beauty and tradition. Despite his intentions, John in not the idealistic revolutionary he thinks himself in this chapter.

Note also Helmholtz's enthusiastic participation in the riot, contrasted with Bernard's hesitancy and his attempt to avoid arrest. This contrast — commitment versus cowardice — continues into Chapter 16, when the three men face the judgment of World Controller Mustapha Mond.


dolychocephalic having a relatively long head.

bursar a treasurer, as of a college or similar institution. Here, Huxley's term for the person who holds and distributes soma at the Park Lane Hospital.

carapace the horny, protective covering over all or part of the back of certain animals, as the upper shell of a turtle, armadillo, crab, etc.