What about disability on Pala?
I noticed that in “The Island,” Huxley does not seem to address Palanise policy on individuals with disabilities. However, it is possible to get a feel for what types of policies the Palanisian government has in place for the disabled, assuming it does indeed have them.
For example, when discussing how Palanise education works, Mr. Menon runs through a list of variables that their education system takes into account for each child’s needs, such as “does this child absorb all the vitamins in his food or is he subject to some chronic deficiency…” (250). This shows that the society of Pala is not only aware of at least some forms of disability, but also regularly assesses for them as part of a good education.
Another point to consider is how Pala prevents crime. Dr. Robert tells Will about “Muscle People and the Peter Pans” as the main sources of crime (Huxley 184). Peter Pans are spotted with medical testing and treated by “three pink capsules a day before meals;” Muscle People, by contrast, are trained naturally through the societal structure of Pala and “[by] giv[ing] them all kinds of difficult tasks to perform… at nobody’s expense and in ways that are either harmless or positively useful” (Huxley 185, 188).
The two of these suggest that disability is detected and treated on Pala by means of medical testing and treatment, as well as monitored societal integration. This is a most excellent way to treat individuals with disabilities, rather than separating them out from “normal” people, or making attempts to sweep people with disabilities under the proverbial rug. People with disabilities are people that merely need help overcoming the limitations of their own bodies. A society that actively and openly integrates people with disabilities allows itself to grow and flourish in ways hard to imagine.
However, there is also the possibility that Pala simply eliminates people with disabilities from public view, just like anywhere else. Worse yet, they might be prevented from existing. When Will asks Vijaya and Shanta about their children, they talk about Deep Freeze and Artificial Insemination. For the Palanise, it’s a common practice to avoid genetic disorders, such as diabetes, by means of Artificial Insemination (Huxley 231). While this is presented as a good idea, (not to mention wishing a disability on someone isn’t a good sentiment), there’s a lot to be gained by genetically “flawed” individuals.
I would like to think that Pala’s government system, at least, prior to the end of the book, treats people with disabilities the former way mentioned. With so much stress on awareness of all parts of one’s life, it would be strange for Pala to simply eliminate one vital sector of society just because it is different.
Bridenhagen, Hannah. Untitled. 2016. Facebook. JPG.
Huxley, Aldous. The Island. HarperCollin, 1962.