As we continue through chapters 6-9 of Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, we are exposed to a society that inhabits people, that are called savages by the people of the New World. The New World is a place where in the words of Linda is, “…so clean, and no nasty smells, no dirt at all” (120). Whereas in the Reservation, it’s pretty much an unsanitary place. Where cleanliness is the least of the worries for the people living there. But, there was one person that was able absorb knowledge from both societies. John is the son of Linda, that was once a Beta-minus, who was raised in an estranged society with a mother that only possessed skills useful in the New World. Therefore, John was able to develop skills taught from the New World and from the Reservation.
As a child, John was bullied a lot because of his appearance yet, he was able to feel superior compared to the rest of the children due to his ability to read. Linda was able to teach John how to read through writings on the walls and overtime he was able to get better. His mother didn’t know how to sew his ruined clothes, so this made him get bullied a lot. During John’s reminiscence, he mentioned, “‘Rags, Rags!’ the boys used to shout at him. ‘But I can read,’ he said to himself, ‘and they can’t. They don’t even know what reading is ‘”(121). After this sudden realization that John went through, he was able to feel superior towards the other boys. Because, reading was a skill that was taught in the New World, but does not exist in the Reservation.
John has had to “self-teach” himself about various traditions related to the reservation. Due to his appearance, he was not allowed to experience various traditional practices that a normal adolescent from the Reservation goes through. For instance, John mentioned, “they wouldn’t let me go with the others; they wouldn’t they wouldn’t tell me any of the secrets” (128). It’s evident that in order for John to satisfy his curiosities, he had to experience these “secrets” on his own. So he didn’t consume anything for 5 days and traveled to the mountains so that he can find his sacred animal. He contemplated suicide, which then led him to discover, “Time and Death and God”(127). The Savages were not fond of his presence around them at a young age, which led to isolation and denying him of any form of exposure to these traditions. If only they had accepted him, he wouldn’t have gone through all of these hardships just to fit in with his society.
Eventually, John was taught how to craft by Mitsima. When John was fifteen, he was taken under the wing of Mitsima and taught how to craft objects using clay. Given the circumstances, John had to learn crafting through imitation. “A moon, a cup, and now a snake”(125). These were the words of wisdom and apparently the methods used to create a pot. I assume that after months of practice creating pots, that is when Mitsima decided to teach John how to create weapons. Mitsima was able to give John teachings of crafting after reaching a certain age. I suppose that being an able bodied young man will earn you a place within the Reservation.
By developing skills taught from the New World and the Reservation, John can be seen as a diverse character. Both societies seem to limit the teachings to their citizens. On one hand we have the New World, which has a skills taught to a person based on their rank within their caste system. Whereas, within the Reservation, their people are taught traditional teachings and secrets that will be considered useful during their existence. Yet, John was able to receive knowledge from both societies and this can potentially make him more powerful compared to others from each individual society.