Huxley’s Brave New World raises thought-provoking questions to explore as a class, in small groups, or through Socratic seminar. These Brave New World discussion questions get students sharing, analyzing, and debating.
I divide the questions into five sets that align to my reading schedule, but peruse, select, and modify to suit your needs. Note that there are two levels for each set. At the end of the post I address the essential questions of Brave New World as a whole.
Brave New World Discussion Questions by Chapter
Brave New World Discussion Questions PDF Handout
Brave New World Essential Questions
To raise central Brave New World questions before starting the novel, check out Brave New World Anticipation Guide. Students respond to statements on freedom of thought, life’s purpose, progress, individuality, consumerism, and more. The guide prepares students for the themes of the novel without spoiling the story.
Brave New World Discussion Questions Set 1
Chapter 1 – Chapter 3
- According to the Director, what are the advantages of Bokanovsky’s Process?
- What are the physical methods used to manipulate the development of the embryos? What are the effects?
- Describe the psychological conditioning methods that the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre uses on babies. (Chapter 2)
- Why does it make economic sense for the society to foster a distaste for nature?
- Describe how the children of the society receive moral lessons. What morals do they learn?
- According to Mustapha Mond (the Controller), what problems do traditional romance and family life create?
- In what ways do Lenina and Bernard demonstrate immoral behavior?
- How are romance and intimacy different in the society of Brave New World?
- Do you think that reproductive science will develop similarly to what Huxley imagines in Brave New World? Explain your view.
- The motto of the World State is “COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.” Would you endorse such a motto? Explain your views.
- Do you think that the conditioning methods used by the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre would work in real life? What are your thoughts?
- The society controls the citizens of AF 632 through subliminal messages. Do you think that subliminal suggestions are being used to control us in real life?
- The fictional society has merged two historical figures: Sigmund Freud (a psychologist) and Henry Ford (an industrialist). Why do you think they have combined these two figures?
- Identify two examples of figurative language (metaphor, simile, personification, etc.) from this reading and explain each. (In other words, why does Huxley choose these words?)
- The narration of Chapter 3 is a confusing mash-up. Why are there 3-5 narrations happening at once? What is the overall effect on the reader?
- What are the key values of the society in Brave New World?
Brave New World Discussion Questions Set 2
Chapter 4 – Chapter 6
- How does the caste system operate in Brave New World?
- Why is Helmholtz Watson’s job important for the society?
- Helmholtz seems to have it all (especially to Bernard), so why is he discontented?
- What are some of the leisure sports played by members of the society? What do the activities have in common?
- Why do you think Lenina is simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by Bernard Marx?
- Why does Bernard keep thinking about Lenina and meat? What is his point? (Ch. 6)
- Explain how the Director embarrasses himself in front of Bernard. What did the director do wrong?
- Why is Bernard thrilled when his boss reprimands him?
- What is the role of soma in the society? When is it taken and why? Can you make any comparisons to our society?
- Why do the people of BNW revere Henry Ford and his Model T?
- Make a connection between Bernard’s behavior and real people. What compels some people to treat cashiers, clerks, employees, and servers so poorly?
- How does the government encourage prejudice between the castes? Why does the society desire this segregation?
- What happens at Solidarity Service? What is the point of the Solidarity Service? Can you make any connections to real life?
- How do Helmholtz Watson and Bernard Marx reach higher senses of individuality than others in the society?
- Helmholtz doesn’t know what he seeks. What do you think he needs to be happy?
- If you could trade some of your intelligence for happiness, would you do it? Explain your answer.
Related Post: Brave New World Excerpts for Analysis and Discussion
Brave New World Discussion Questions Set 3
Chapter 7 – Chapter 10
- Why do you think Bernard wants to show Lenina that he is “unorthodox” and “outrageous” while touring the reservation?
- What are some of Linda’s struggles in adjusting to life in Malpais?
- Why is Popé merciful to John after John attacks him? (Chapter 8)
- What do you think is the hardest part about growing up on the reservation for John?
- Why do you think Controller Mond allows John and Linda to come to London?
- Why does Huxley give zippers so much attention in the novel? (Chapter 9)
- Why does the Director feel that Bernard Marx is dangerous? (Chapter 10)
- The reunion between the Director and Linda make the Alphas in the Fertilizing Room roar with laughter. Why is this serious situation so comical to them? (Chapter 10)
- Describe how and why Huxley manipulates time (e.g., flashbacks) in this reading.
- Why do the words of Shakespeare drive John to attack Popé, his mother’s lover? (Chapter 8)
- Bernard explains that individuals in Brave New World enjoy “Youth almost unimpaired till sixty, and then, crack! the end.” What would be the pros and cons of this development?
- “Oh, I wish I had my soma.” Why do people keep losing their soma on the reservation? Lenina forgets her soma at the hotel (Chapter 7) and years earlier the Director loses his soma in a thunderstorm (Chapter 6). What is the significance of this?
- Some readers find Huxley’s descriptions of the Savage Reservation offensive? What elements might give offense? What do you think?
- Compare the “savage” ceremony and the ceremonies of The World State (Solidarity Service and Community Sing).
- Why do you think Huxley includes Shakespeare’s works and words in the novel?
- Predict how John will respond to life in London. What might happen? How would you react if you were unexpectedly transported to Brave New World?
Brave New World Discussion Questions Set 4
Chapter 11 – Chapter 14
- Why is John popular in London whereas Linda is not?
- In what ways does Bernard change once he becomes John’s guide and chaperone?
- Bernard follows the Controller’s directions and makes himself useful, so why is the Controller determined to “give him a lesson” in the future?
- Controller Mond agrees with everything in the research paper that he labels “NOT TO BE PUBLISHED.” Why does Mond reject the paper? (Chapter 12)
- Why does Helmholtz have such a strong connection with John?
- To what aspects of Romeo and Juliet does Helmholtz object? (Chapter 12)
- Why does John react angrily and violently when Lenina tries to seduce him? (Chapter 13)
- What is unusual and/or notable about Linda’s death?
- The teacher at the school shows the Alpha++ students a video of penitent sinners whipping themselves before a representation of Jesus. Why do the students roar with laughter?
- The author often wants you to root for the protagonist. Why does Huxley make Bernard so obnoxious and reprehensible during this section of Brave New World?
- Why do you think the society conditions the citizens to be accepting and even positive about death?
- Analyze the feely attended by Lenina and John. How is the content contrary to the values of the society? How does John misinterpret the characters? (Chapter 11)
- Bernard resents Helmholtz for forgiving him and welcoming him back. Does this “victim-friend” relationship make sense to you? (Ch. 12)
- The narrator explains, “One of the principal functions of a friend is to suffer (in a milder and symbolic form) the punishments that we should like, but are unable, to in inflict upon our enemies.” What do you think of this idea?
- How is John’s use of the quote “Oh brave new world that has such people in it,” different in Chapter 11 as compared to Chapter 8?
- Slough is a real suburb of London and the fictional location of the Slough Crematorium. Research the definition of slough to explain Huxley’s hidden message.
Brave New World Discussion Questions Set 5
Chapter 15 – Chapter 18
- Why do you think John the Savage decides to start his revolt at that moment? (Ch. 15)
- What can we learn about the characters of Helmholtz and Bernard from their respective reactions to the brawl? (Chapter 15)
- The Brave New World S.W.A.T. team responds swiftly to the riot and knows what to do. Is this surprising given the tranquility of the society? What can you infer?
- Why do you think Helmholtz is so pleased with himself after being arrested? (Chapter 16)
- John suggests that the World State make everyone an Alpha++. Why does Controller Mond reject this idea? (Chapter 16)
- How are the Controller’s official positions different from his personal views?
- Why do you think Mustapha Mond continues the experiment with John even after John requests banishment?
- What compels John to punish himself?
- Can you relate to John’s desire to leave the comforts of civilization and get back to basics? Explain your answer.
- Does Mond’s argument of why Shakespeare has no place in the society make any sense? What harm could these plays and sonnets cause?
- Is John right about the value of inconveniences, tears, and suffering?
- It seems like the lower castes of Brave New World are often dark in complexion. There is also a discussion of the fertility of “the negro ovary” in Chapter 1. Is this book racist?
- Can you imagine a time where humanity would seek to slow or even stop scientific and technological progress?
- Mustapha Mond believes that youth and prosperity make people independent from faith. What do you think? (Chapter 17)
- Would you wish to be born into the society of Brave New World? Explain your answer.
- Why do you think John’s hanging corpse is compared to a compass at the very end of the novel?
Related Post: Brave New World Unit Plan for High School
Brave New World Discussion Questions PDFBrave New World Discussion Questions ONLY
I break the class into small groups (4-6 students), give each group one handout, and assign several of the questions. If time allows, groups can share the highlights of their analysis with the class.
You might also assign each group a key excerpt from the reading to analyze.
Brave New World Essential Questions
How much should the individual sacrifice for the benefit of society?
How can we defend our minds from unwelcome influence?
Is struggle essential to a meaningful life?
Should scientific and sociological progress be held in check?
What role does isolation play in personal development?
Is it acceptable to trade individuality and liberty for safety and contentedness?
Who controls the truth?
What does it mean to live an authentic life?
How dangerous is consumerism?
What does social equality look like and can it be achieved?
The Brave New World essential questions are mainly addressed through the projects and culminating tasks of the unit.
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I hope that you have found these Brave New World questions for teachers helpful in guiding your Socratic seminars or class discussions. Get more ideas for teaching the novel by checking out more Brave New World posts from TeachNovels.