In the beginning of "Brave New World", the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (DHC) leads a group of students through the "Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre" to give them an idea of the society and how it is kept stable.
The World State was created after the Nine Years War. Its motto is "Community, Identity, Stability". Ford, as the father of mass production, replaces God, and so the introduction of his first T-Model was chosen as the opening date of the new era.
In this stable society, children are not born, but made from the fertilization and divided into five classes. While the upper class Alphas and Betas, consist of intelligent individuals, the lower class Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, are made up of Bokanovsky Groups. Up to 96 identical men or women are produced from one egg. People look and feel young until they die, and all diseases are eliminated.
Most of the girls are sterilized and the other's who are potential ovary providers, are drilled to take contraceptives, for bearing children is unthinkable, and mother and father are even indecent words. Being married to one person would also be indecent, but sex is an ordinary action, because everyone belongs to everyone else.
To make sure that everyone is happy with his predestined life and work, all children are trained to like what they have got to do. The main training instrument is hypnopaedia, which is sleep teaching. While they are asleep the children are taught about class distinction and moral ideals like community in simple phrases. If someone feels sad or angry, there is soma. This is a legal drug without any negative effects, and people who do not accept the civilized way of life are sent to an island.
In the following chapters the main characters are introduced. Bernard Marx is an Alpha, but has a very bad reputation, because he is rather small and behaves abnormal. For example, he likes to be alone and doesn't take soma when he is unhappy. Bernard is also proud of being an individual and unhappy about not being accepted by his friends. Bernard's friend Helmholtz Watson is also an individual, but doesn't show this to the normal people and is not isolated like Bernard. He is an author of certain rhymes and would like to write about something more important, but doesn't know what it could be.
Bernard ask's Lenina Crowne who is a quite normal, well trained girl, to visit a Savage Reservation with him. Although Lenina doesn't understand Bernard's talking about being an individual she agrees because she always wanted to see a Savage Reservation. As the DHC signs their permit to visit the Reservation in New Mexico, he tells Bernard that he has been there to, and that the girl who is going with him has been lost in the Reservation. Bugged about this mistake, he threatens Bernard by telling him that he will be sent to an island because of his abnormal behavior. Bernard doesn't believe that this could really happen and is even proud that the director thinks of him as a danger for society.
When Lenina and Bernard arrive in New Mexico, Bernard is told by Helmholtz that he will be sent to an island. Bernard is not proud anymore, but is desperate and depressive. Having taken a some soma, they watch a religious dance in the Reservation where they meet the savage John and his mother Linda, who obviously is the girl the DHC told Bernard about. She doesn't look like a civilized girl and is fat and ugly. John who always was an outsider, was influenced by the indians and their religions as well as by Linda who tried to live in a civilized way. He was taught to read by his mother and got an old volume of Shakespeare's works by one of the Indians. Shakespeare was the third influence that taught him about moral values. Fascinated by John's story Bernard promises to bring him and Linda back to London.
When the DHC tells Bernard in front of his friends that he will be sent to Iceland, Bernard brings in Linda and John who embarrass the director calling him father. After this happens the director resigns from his job, and Bernard can stay in civilization. Because the scientists cannot make Linda young again, she decides to stay on an endless soma trip and is forgotten soon. Everybody wants to see John the Savage, so Bernard who is the only connection to John, is suddenly respected by everyone. Not being used to being important Bernard gets big headed and even has a fight with Helmholtz who disapproves of the way he is acting. But John doesn't adapt to civilized manners. For example he doesn't go to bed with Lenina although he is in love with her, because he regards his desires as a sin. When he doesn't come to one of Bernard's Savage-Parties, the important guests leave, and Bernard is the unhappy individual he was before and makes up with Helmholtz. John and Helmholtz get along with each other very well and Helmholtz is excited about Shakespeare's work they read together.
Lenina who also is in love with John, is very unhappy because she doesn't understand his behavior at all, and finally decides to visit him and go to bed with him if he wants to or not. John realizes her intention, and gets angry and calls her a whore. But when he hears that his mother is dying, he leaves Lenina alone and visits Linda. In his grief about her death, John tries to explain Deltas, what freedom is, and throws their soma away. A few minutes later Bernard and Helmholtz are there to help him, but they are overpowered by the police and brought to Mustapha Mond, the World Controller for Western Europe.
Mustapha Mond, who knows about history and also likes Shakespeare, explains to John that art like Shakespeare would be dangerous for stability and that religion is useless in a stable society.
To Helmholtz, the Controller explains that living on an island, where he and Bernard will be sent, can be quite interesting because of the people who live there. As he is not allowed to accompany Bernard and Helmholtz, John decides to live alone in an old lighthouse, where he wants to pay for his sins by beating himself. But harassed by reporters and spectators, who want to see him beat his self, he finally kills himself.