Brave New World opens in the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Center, where the Director of the Hatchery and Henry Foster are giving a tour to a group of boys. The boys learn about the Bokanovsky Process, which allows the Hatchery to produce thousands of nearly identical human embryos. During the gestation period the embryos travel in bottles along a conveyor belt through a large factory building, and are conditioned to belong to one of five castes: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon. The Alpha embryos are destined to become the leaders and thinkers of the World State. Each of the succeeding castes is conditioned to be slightly less physically and intellectually impressive. The Epsilons are destined to perform menial labor.
The Director then leads the boys to the Nursery, where they observe a group of Delta infants being reprogrammed to dislike books and flowers. The Director explains that this conditioning helps to make Deltas docile and eager consumers. He then tells the boys about the “hypnopaedic” (sleep-teaching) methods used to teach children the morals of the World State. In a room where older children are napping, a whispering voice is heard repeating a lesson in “Elementary Class Consciousness.”
Outside, the Director shows the boys hundreds of naked children engaged in sexual play and games like “Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.” Mustapha Mond, one of the ten World Controllers, introduces himself to the boys and begins to explain the history of the World State. Meanwhile, inside the Hatchery, Lenina Crowne chats in the bathroom with Fanny Crowne about her relationship with Henry Foster. Fanny chastises Lenina for going out with Henry almost exclusively for four months, and Lenina admits she is attracted to the strange, somewhat funny-looking Bernard Marx. In another part of the Hatchery, Bernard is enraged when he overhears a conversation between Henry and the Assistant Predestinator about “having” Lenina.
After work, Lenina tells Bernard that she would be happy to accompany him on his trip to the Savage Reservation in New Mexico. Bernard flies a helicopter to meet a friend of his, Helmholtz Watson. He and Helmholtz discuss their dissatisfaction with the World State. Bernard is primarily upset because he is too small and weak for his caste; Helmholtz is unhappy because he is too intelligent for his job writing hypnopaedic phrases. In the next few days, Bernard asks his superior, the Director, for permission to visit the Reservation. The Director launches into a story about a visit to the Reservation he had made with a woman twenty years earlier, in which, during a storm, the woman was lost and never recovered. Finally, he gives Bernard the permit, and Bernard and Lenina depart for the Reservation. Before heading into the Reservation, Bernard calls Helmholtz and learns that the Director has grown...