Swallowing half an hour before closing time, that second dose of soma had raised a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and their minds.
Henry Foster and Lenina Crowne have used soma as a recreational drug. On the surface, the drug symbolizes pleasure, the goal for everyone in the World State society. But this quote reveals the drug’s primary purpose—to make people avoid reality. The reader can infer from the mindlessness of Lenina and Henry that they are susceptible to mind control.
The service had begun. The dedicated soma tablets were placed in the centre of the table. The loving cup of strawberry ice-cream soma was passed from hand to hand and, with the formula, “I drink to my annihilation,” twelve times quaffed.
At a Solidarity Service in the World State, soma is consumed in a ritualistic way, functioning much as wine does during a Christian Mass. The drug makes the participants get caught up in the music and dancing. The song and dance are to the nursery rhyme “Georgie Porgie.” As revealed in this scene, the drug soma symbolizes infantile behavior as well as unquestioning belief.
Lenina felt herself entitled, after this day of queerness and horror, to a complete and absolute holiday. As soon as they got back to the rest-house, she swallowed six half-gramme tablets of soma, lay down on her bed, and within ten minutes had embarked for lunar eternity. It would be eighteen hours at the least before she was in time again.
Lenina, like other citizens of the World State, has been programmed and trained to seek pleasure, so her day of confronting unpleasant things “entitles” her to take a soma holiday. Bernard accepts this as her right. Soma is now a symbol of escapism and an inability to confront or accept the real world, especially human mortality.
“I’ll teach you; I’ll make you be free whether you want to or not.” And pushing open a window that looked on to the inner court of the Hospital, he began to throw the little pill-boxes of soma tablets in handfuls out into the area.
Here, John—the Savage—blames his mother’s death on soma and tries to keep other people from getting it by interfering with daily soma rations for workers at the Hospital. For both John and the reader, soma now symbolizes lack of free will, central social control, and enslavement.
It was after midnight when the last of the helicopters took its flight. Stupefied by soma, and exhausted by a long-drawn frenzy of sensuality, the Savage lay sleeping in the heather. The sun was already high when he awoke. He lay for a moment, blinking in owlish incomprehension at the light; then suddenly remembered—everything.
The novel ends with John, the Savage and the novel’s protagonist, using soma and taking part in anonymous sex. John held out against World State values for as long as possible in spite of the seductive behavior of Lenina. The Savage had even resorted to whipping himself in order to atone for his sins and remain pure. Here, however, he literally succumbs to the pressure of the group and cannot live with himself after his fall. By the novel’s end, soma has become a symbol of original sin.