Families in Pala
In Aldous Huxley’s Island there is a lot of description of family and how these families are set up in the Pala society. This aspect of the novel is very interesting because when compared to the family system that we have now, Pala’s society concerning family is very different.
We are told that the family system is set up in a way so that the whole community raises the children, not just one set of parents. For instance, Susila’s husband has died, but her children have the rest of the community to step in and take care of them too. “…It’s good for the children to spend a certain amount of time with one or other of their deputy fathers” (Huxley, 241). This is just a small example of how the community comes together to raise all of the children, not just specific ones.
I also thought that it was interesting that while most children grow up with many sets of parents, Murugan is closely raised by his mother. He wasn’t always under her thumb, but she has such a huge influence on him, whereas if he was raised like the other children in his community I don’t think he would be so arrogant and sullen. Will sees this traits in Murugan and recognizes where it comes from. This idea comes to a head when he receives a letter from Murugan’s mother, “Angry…with that grotesque monster of a woman, who had begun by ruining her son, in the name of mother love and chastity…” (Huxley, 307-308). Maybe if Murugan had other parental influences from the rest of his community, he might have turned out differently.
I think that Huxley is trying to show both sides of growing up. One with the community raising the children and the other with just the parents. Huxley also may be trying to show the flaws in our family system today and I think that he’s right to a point. There are some really bad parents whose children don’t grow up in a good situation and could have benefited from Pala’s system, but on the other hand, there are great parents out there whose children grow up in an amazing environment and wouldn’t have needed the system.
In the end, I think what Huxley is trying to do is to make us aware of what can be a flawed family system in our society as well as showing us what it could be for children and their families in what he imagines as a type of utopia.
Huxley, Aldous. Island: A Novel. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962. Print.
(picture taken from pixabay)