In the course of Book 2, Chapter 5 of George Orwell's 1984, how and why does Winston change?

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Michael Otis | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Book 2, Chapter 5 of 1984 in part relates the story of Winston's 'summer of love'. Trysts with Julia in the bedroom above Mr. Charrington's curio shop have worked astonishing changes in Winston's health: He has lost the craving for synthetic gin. He has gained weight. The varicose ulcer on his ankle, normally inflamed, has nearly disappeared while the coughing fits, which normally doubled him over in the morning, have ended. A certain equanimity has entered his emotional life: No longer must he fight the temptation to make faces at the telescreen, or shout curses at the top of his lungs. With a place of refuge where a man can be a man and a woman a woman, free from the artificiality and fraud necessary for existence in a totalitarian world, Winston begins to taste what well-being, happiness, and freedom from fear could be. 

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teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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Life changes for Winston after he falls in love with Julia and they make a hideaway out of the room he rents above Mr. Charrington's shop. His love for Julia begins to humanize Winston: he has a person he can talk to, care about and confide in. He is no longer so alone. He has a sexual outlet, which, as Julia explains, the state frowns on because the government wants to control that pent up energy.  With a private room, Winston's transformation is completed: "The room was a world, a pocket of the past where extinct animals could walk." 

The novel shows the extent to which Party members have been dehumanized and stripped down to the emotions Winston primarily feels before he gets involved with Julia: anger, fear, hysteria during the Two Minute hate, aggression, loathing. This has been done by separating him from intimacy with any other human and by denying him any sort of private or personal life apart from state regulation or control. Now, he begins to relax and feel compassion and pleasure. In showing how humanizing a love relationship and a private room can be, Orwell highlights how important these are to the nurturing of our full humanity. The room is a "pocket of the past," and although they are being watched, Winston and Julia nevertheless get a taste of a fully human existence while they are there. 


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