When Bernard arrives, the D.H.C. announces in front of everyone his intention to transfer Bernard to a “Sub-Centre of the lowest order.” The D.H.C. explains that Bernard has “grossly betrayed the trust imposed in him” — and that his unorthodox attitudes and behavior threaten Society.
Bernard responds by bringing in Linda, whose appearance — sagging and discolored with age — horrifies and astonishes the crowd. She immediately recognizes the D.H.C. as her “Tomikin” and tells him that he caused her to have a baby — to be a mother. An “appalling hush” fills the room at the mere mention of this “smutty” word.
When John enters and calls the D.H.C. “my father,” laughter breaks out among the crowd. Completely humiliated, the D.H.C. rushes from the room.
This short chapter features the reversal of fortune that sets into motion the events that dominate the rest of the novel.
The D.H.C.’s plan to chastise Bernard publicly before banishing him for his unorthodox behavior is, the Director maintains, a necessity for social stability, but the D.H.C.’s pious protectiveness of the social order masks his real reason for punishing Bernard — concern about Bernard’s revealing his unconventional feelings for Linda. In making an example of Bernard for his behavior, then, the D.H.C. is being hypocritical.
Bernard’s dramatic introduction of the middle-aged Linda and her son — the horrifying proof of the D.H.C.’s social sins — represents a brilliant counter-attack, a public humiliation that undercuts the D.H.C.’s moral authority to punish Bernard. The vision of the pompous and hypocritical D.H.C. suddenly shocked into silent terror and revulsion makes the victory a satisfying one for the reader, despite Bernard’s characteristic falseness and vindictiveness. In later chapters, Bernard will reap the reward of this masterful surprise, not only avoiding punishment but improving his social status.
The return home does not come up to either Linda’s or John’s high expectations, however. Linda’s appearance — aging, bloated, coarse from hard living without chemical enhancement — seems to be the ultimate punishment for becoming a mother, and the assembled workers shrink from her in horror. John’s heartfelt declaration, on his knees before the D.H.C. — “My father!” — incites only uncontrollable laughter among the workers. The scene makes clear that Linda will never be accepted back into the society of Fordian London, but that John may be welcomed as an exotic curiosity. Young and handsome, he conforms to Fordian expectations, while offering the possibility of surprise and sexual interest as well.
Note how Huxley returns the action to London with a few descriptive references to familiar surroundings — the Social Predestination Room, the Nurseries, and at last the Fertilizing Room, where the scene takes place. The descriptions remind the reader of the essential difference between Malpais and London — natural birth versus the bottling and decanting of fetuses — and prepares for the revelation of Linda and her son, the actual, physical reality that the Fertilizing Room is designed to replace.
voluptuous sexually attractive because of a full, shapely figure.
undulation a swaying motion. Here, describing Linda’s sexually provocative entrance into the Fertilizing Room.
scatological having to do with excrement or excretion.
obliquity a turning aside from moral conduct or sound thinking.