Aeon Station, by Aldous Huxley, opens in 1987 and tells the story of a working-class man who fails to make his way in a familiar, safe world of petty scams and horrid parenthood. It looks at society from the perspectives of being poor and racist as well as being rich and outside society.
Huxley’s title refers to a real place as well as to the strong social, political, and economic situation the novel chronicles. In the opening scenes, Oswald, the main character, arrives at the “Aeon Station” that has been reserved for arrivals — but not quite yet out of the station. Half a block from the station, Oswald is greeted by a woman in a wheelchair and her grandson. What follows is a complicated story of prostitution, religion, suspicion, and hope.
Huxley has placed this novel in the context of class and society, both past and present. Oswald, a nobody, is burdened with his interests, interests that are later found to be deeply embedded in race and religion. His home is “for black niggers, white non-niggers, of what color, we don’t know.” Things also turn in later chapters when Oswald meets a young girl, Lana. In retrospect, Huxley’s description of his story as “a caution to be exceedingly cautious and careful about what the next phase of your life calls you to do” appears to be his call for safety and vigilance, for the reader as well as for his characters.
Huxley does have a good time; writing the novel was one of his most enjoyable experiences. But his protagonist’s search for happiness and success is blurred by ignorance, blindness, and, in one case, outright disregard. In the name of fairness, he doesn’t fully disclose the nature of a situation involving Oswald’s rapist. As a result, Oswald hides the truth from the girl who is also from a marginalized group. Without attention, the modern world may keep looking strange.
Author: Aldous Huxley
Publisher: Vintage Books
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