22

In Brave New World, there is an extensive caste system. However, Lenina's caste is never explicitly pointed out. She is important to many of the male characters in the book, each belonging to a different caste.

What caste is she and what proof is there?

  • 4
    It's pointed out several times that women of her profession are Betas, maybe Beta minuses. – Gallifreyan Jan 18 '17 at 18:31
24

Gamma or Beta, but likely Beta.

In Chapter 4, Lenina expresses her disgust for the Gammas as she passes by Gammas boarding monorails after work:

"My word," said Lenina, "I'm glad I'm not a Gamma."

Later, when talking with Henry, it's clear that she is not an Epsilon - and likely an Alpha or a Beta:

"I'm glad I'm not an Epsilon," said Lenina, with conviction.

"And if you were an Epsilon," said Henry, "your conditioning would have made you no less thankful that you weren't a Beta or an Alpha."

Lenina's character throughout the book is consistent with that of someone from the upper classes. She expresses clear disdain at the lower classes, while still docilely going along with the way the World State wants things to go (remember, she uses soma). While many Alphas fit that profile, Lenina's less-imaginative attitude seems to fit a Beta more than an Alpha. It's true that all the major characters in Brave New World are Alphas and Betas, and so we don't know what Gammas, Deltas or Epsilons really think, we should still be able to extrapolate.

It seems like Lenina is a Beta. However, when talking with Fanny while getting dressed (Chapter 3), Lenina is quite clearly wearing green - the color of Gammas! The following excerpt from the conversation between the two is interspersed with a history lesson from Mustapha Mond and the sound of sleep-teaching. All emphasis is mine.

"Do I look all right?" Lenina asked. Her jacket was made of bottle green acetate cloth with green viscose fur; at the cuffs and collar.

"Eight hundred Simple Lifers were mowed down by machine guns at Golders Green."

"Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending."

Green corduroy shorts and white viscose-woollen stockings turned down below the knee.

"Then came the famous British Museum Massacre. Two thousand culture fans gassed with dichlorethyl sulphide."

A green-and-white jockey cap shaded Lenina's eyes; her shoes were bright green and highly polished.

My guess is that this an oversight on Huxley's part (though the outfit is mentioned once later). I think it's also possible that Lenina decided to dress a bit nicer - after all, she's going out with Henry Foster (to Fanny's dismay). She may not even have been wearing the same green as the Gammas; her jacket is "bottle green" while their clothes are "leaf-green".

Finally, let's take Lenina's job into account. She works as a technician at the Hatchery - a position that needs some intelligence and skill, but is, for the most part, repetitive and monotonous. An Alpha would not be needed to do such work, but a Delta or Epsilon could not do it, and even a Gamma might not be a good choice. The skill needed seems to point to Lenina being a Beta. Also, as Gallifreyan pointed out, Linda is also a Beta, and presumably had a job similar to Lenina's.

In short, Lenina's comments, personality and job all point to her being a Beta of some sort.

12

My speculation is Beta

This is an excerpt from the Director's conversation with Bernard:

"I had the same idea as you," the Director was saying. "Wanted to have a look at the savages. Got a permit for New Mexico and went there for my summer holiday. With the girl I was having at the moment. She was a Beta-Minus, and I think" (he shut his eyes), "I think she had yellow hair. Anyhow she was pneumatic, particularly pneumatic; I remember that. . . ."

Emphasis mine

The Director is talking about Linda, and not Lenina. Yet, it is safe to assume, given the way Linda and Lenina are treated and even described by surrounding men, that they were of the same class.

Later, Linda says:

But I'm a Beta; I worked in the Fertilizing Room; nobody ever taught me to do anything like that. It wasn't my business.

3

I suspect, as stated in the above answers, that she is a beta. Another good reason is that it's made quite clear that fraternizing between castes is frowned upon. It's unlikely that a gamma girl would be pursued by alpha-plus men. I figured the reason for her wearing green was because (and I could be wrong) there are not such strict rules for casual clothing. Maybe in their work environments, and in conditioning centers as children, they adhere to more of a uniform. Perhaps (maybe only for those of upper-castes) they have a little more freedom to make fashion choices (which would be good for the economy after all).

  • 1
    I like your last point about the upper castes possibly having more freedom in fashion. We hear about the Epsilons and Gammas having assigned colors and official uniforms, but I don't recall anything similar for the Betas and Alphas. – Torisuda Apr 5 '18 at 2:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.