In the novel 1984, what is the contrast between the Ministry of Truth building and its surroundings? What does it point out about this society?

2 Answers | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The contrast between the Ministry of Truth building (and other ministry buildings) and its surroundings is that the Ministry building is huge and new while everything else is old and run-down.

The Ministry building is 300 meters high and pure white.  The surroundings are made up of old buildings, patched and propped up.  There are also all kinds of craters from bombs.

This shows how completely the government dominates the society of Oceania.  Only the government has new and imposing buildings because only the government is seen as important.  The buildings, like the government, completely overshadow the rest of society.

teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

The Ministry of Truth is dedicated, ironically, to producing propaganda and lies. The building itself, however, tells one truth, and that is the truth of where power resides in this culture: in the hands of the government. Winston gazes out of his window and sees the building:

It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party: WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. 

The rest of London is a wreck of sagging, shabby Victorian houses, bomb craters, rubble and "sordid colonies" of wooden shacks, overrun by rats and poverty.

Minitrue and the other buildings like it, Miniluv, Minipax and Miniplenty, point out the kind of power that dominates this society. It is the power that O'Brien will later describe to Winston, the power of a state apparatus that transcends any one individual and which exists to amass ever more power. Minitrue, in its dominant position in the skyline, represents the "boot in the face" power of the totalitarian state in which O'Brien exults. This power is bigger than life, and it exists to perpetrate itself. It recognizes power in its ability to force people to do what they don't want to do. In its huge yet dehumanized grandeur, the Minitrue building shows that the state can squander resources wherever it wants to, with no interest in fairness, decency or the misery that might be averted were funds to be allocated differently. In fact, the state shows its power in using its resources on a few enormous buildings while forcing the vast mass of the people to suffer in poverty.

We’ve answered 317,759 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question