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Brave New Discussion Questions
In your groups, write 2 higher-order discussion questions for the novel on the notecards provided. Your questions should be synthetic (synthesize multiple ideas), openended (no “correct answer”), and above application on Bloom’s taxonomy.
Is the ending to Brave New World at all optimistic? For any of the characters?
1. Perform a close reading of the final page of the novel. Analyze how Huxley portrays John’s death and how these choices affect larger meanings of the scene and novel.
2. When the book was first published in 1932, the world was plunged in depression, fascism was on the rise in Western Europe, and Marxism appealed to increasing numbers of intellectuals in Europe and America. Place the book in the context of its historical moment. Which parts transcend its time and place?
3. Why do you think Huxley has John commit suicide? Discuss the significance of Huxley placing the suicide at the end of the novel. How does he use language to intensify this?
4. Mustapha Mond feels that “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. ” What exactly is bad about this futuristic society?
5. When John first starts reading Shakespeare, he discovers that the words make his emotions “more real”—they even make other people more real. Talk about the power of language in the book, the power of the word to influence thought and behavior. Why did Huxley choose Shakespeare as a medium for John’s intellectual awakening?
6. Consider Huxley's use of narrator and how he uses the narrator to captivate the reader. Does the fact that Huxley's vision was impaired for part of his life have any bearing on the way he narrates the story and sets the scenes?
7. Who is the antagonist of the novel? How does Huxley reveal this fact to the reader?
8. What does Huxley suggest is “the final end [goal/priority] of man? ” Aristotle claims that the end of man is happiness. Would Huxley agree or disagree?
9. How do Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen function within the rest of the novel? (These are the two philosophical chapters, where John and Mustapha finally get to spar verbally. ) Does it seem unreasonable to have so much heavy thinking instead of action?
10. Does the novel have any other loose ends it fails to tie up? If so, does that seem intentional, and what effect does it have?
Theme Mania! • Brainstorm and record at least three primary themes of the novel. • Theme: argument about humanity’s condition, life lesson, or underlying message of the work. – You should be able to convey a theme in a complete sentence. – I can disagree with a thematic statement. • Themes of Romeo and Juliet: Violence begets violence when unrestrained and based on revenge; fate is inescapable to mankind; religious intrusion in secular constructs yields destruction. • NOT themes of R&J: Love, suicide, religion – These are SUBJECTS
Big Motifs - Identify and discuss their occurrences in the novel, AND analyze their function to themes of the novel. • Free Will versus Enslavement • Class Conflict • Science and Technology • Knowledge and Ignorance • Self and Society • • • Family Structures Denial of Death Materialism Human Impulsiveness Suffering God and Religion
Huxley wrote many other books, yet this is his most popular and enduring. What is it about this book that has captured our imaginations for so long? Are there aspects of it that seem dated?
Select one ideology prominent in today’s society. Play acerbically satirical writer for a bit and brainstorm what kind of society your dystopia would be. How would you emphasize certain ideas and use plot, character, and setting to test social hypotheses?