Three weeks ago, I went out two times with one man. If we follow this mathematical pattern (3-2-1…), the next number that follows is zero: the amount of times we’ve spoken to each other since. Sometimes, you crack open a seltzer and it only takes minutes for the carbonation to escape the surface. It’s a bit disappointing, and you want to sue the grocery store, but the science of it is sound, and ultimately, that’s comforting. The same goes for interactions like these. I don’t like you very much, you don’t like me, so we don’t speak.
The style and presentation of these novels varies quite considerably. 1984 is very much the experience of the central character, Winston Smith. His thoughts and feelings and his fate are the story of the novel, although there is also the long (and very dull) section of The Book which explains how the world functions, and the extensive appendix on 'Newspeak'. Brave New World presents a less taut, less tense story, and the story-line moves from one focus character to another: initially it seems as though the Director may be the main character, then the story moves on to Lenina and to Bernard, and eventually to John, the Savage. There are some didactic passages here, too, most pointedly when Mustapha Mond explains how the World State functions, but this is more carefully integrated into the storyline than is The Book. However, neither novel really makes a point of presenting realistic characters—or even particularly likeable ones. Winston's many flaws are ruthlessly exposed as he writes in his 'diary' or moves through life without doing much to make us like or admire him. Bernard Marx is an outsider and in a situation which ought to evoke our sympathy—he is not a 'proper' Alpha, and acutely conscious of his shortcomings—but he is too selfish and whining to be very attractive. The Savage is in a far more pitiable situation, but even he is not really an endearing character, and Huxley makes sure that we are distanced from him by the elements of humour and the grotesque which are used to convey his story. There are, interestingly, some moments of close correspondence between the books. O'Brien and Mustapha Mond have some similarity of role and character. Bernard, at the 'religious' ceremony, is unable to feel the ecstasy along with the others and has to fake it—just as Winston cannot entirely enter into the spirit of the 'Two Minutes Hate', even though other people are screaming abuse at the figure of Goldstein. In addition, there is the resonance of the presence of death. Brave New World is full of death imagery, from the grisly description of the Hatchery right through to John's suicide. And Winston Smith regards himself as 'already dead', right from the beginning.