As it’s been touched on in class, the people of Brave New World use a drug called soma in order to attain some sort of escape. The drug is widely used in almost all social situations, like here when Bernard and Lenina end up attending a Woman’s Wrestling match as part of their first date:
“In a crowd,” he grumbled. “As usual.” He remained obstinately gloomy the whole afternoon; wouldn’t talk to Lenina’s friends (of whom they met dozens in the ice-cream soma bar between the wrestling bouts); and in spite of misery absolutely refused to take the half gramme-raspberry sundae which she pressed upon him. “I’d rather be myself,” he said. “Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.” (p. 89)
Soma acts as a crutch in this society not only for escape for one’s self, but also escape from any related human interaction. Even at a public gathering with Lenina’s “friends”, they are all partaking in the drug. And rather than wanting to enjoy each other’s company watching the moon over the ocean, Lenina insists on how dreadful it is while not feeling the affects of soma.
The “savages” at the reservation do not rely on an escape from human interaction, rather they embrace the concept. Even Bernard is evident of this, as he saw it happening when they entered the reserve and were seeing a mother breast-feeding her child:
“What a wonderfully intimate relationship,” he said, deliberately outrageous. “And what an intensity of feeling it must generate! I often think one may have missed something in not having had a mother. And perhaps you’ve missed something in not being a mother, Lenina. Imagine yourself sitting there with a little baby of your own….” (p.107)
And during the whole time they are at the reserve, neither of them are on soma. Bernard being reliant on his own determination doesn’t need it while Lenina (like a drug-abuser) is relapsing from not having it. Her conditioning with soma also contributes to the fact that she can’t deal with deep emotional human connections. There are numerous examples of this, she takes the drug when not wanting to deal with another person.
The only sign of cope I observed from her while on the reserve, was when she would link whatever she was witnessing back to norms of her society:
It reminded her reassuringly of the synthetic noises made at Solidarity Services and Ford’s Day celebrations. “Orgy-porgy,” she whispered to herself. These drums beat out just the same rhythms…Queer – yes. The place was queer, so was the music, so were the clothes and the goitres and the skin diseases and the old people. But the performance itself – there seemed to be nothing specially queer about that. (p.108)
Though she sees a barbaric display as people sing as one and show signs of brotherhood, she is able to enjoy herself. And this is only through relating it back to her good experiences, the times when she knew that what she was doing was right, is how she is able to deal with not having soma.
In a way, soma draws the person back to “civilized” society. The manipulations of a world that conditions it’s residents to not have deep emotional connections with one another; all the celebration, without the needed outcome of connecting with people. In contrast, the reserve community rely on one another both emotionally and in regards to attaining knowledge; and they show their gratitude with one another with tradition and unified celebration.