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What did the Parsons' flat look like in George Orwell's 1984?

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k11-19 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:09 AM via web

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What did the Parsons' flat look like in George Orwell's 1984?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted July 4, 2013 at 6:53 PM (Answer #1)

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Like the protagonist of Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith, Smith's neighbors, the Parsons family, live in a rather gruesome looking flat (in the United States we would probably call their dwelling an apartment) in a building complex called Victory Mansions. The name is rather oxymoronic, because this building is anything but a mansion and those living in them probably felt anything but victorious.

When we first hear about the Parsons' flat, in Chapter 2, Mrs. Parson has asked Winston to fix a plumbing problem, which automatically tells us that the flat was not in good shape. Orwell tells us that the Parsons' flat was larger than Winston's (four members of the Parsons' family lived there) and that it was "dingy." Victory Mansions also had roofs that often leaked, pipes that often burst during cold weather, a heating system that rarely worked, and plaster that "flaked constantly." Orwell also notes that the building smelled like "boiled cabbage" and that the Parsons' flat reeked of human sweat. 

The Parsons' flat was also extremely messy. Children's toys were strewn about everywhere. The apartment walls were decorated with "scarlet banners of the Youth League and the Spies, and a full-sized poster of Big Brother."

My favorite description, though, of the Parsons' flat is as follows:

"Everything had a battered, trampled-on look, as though the place had just been visited by some large violent animal."

In sum, the Parsons' flat seems like a very depressing place to spend one's life.

 

 

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