Homework Help

What does the coral paperweight symbolize in 1984?

user profile pic

lexogirl0322 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 23, 2009 at 8:55 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What does the coral paperweight symbolize in 1984?

7 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 29, 2007 at 5:44 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

The paperweight is something from the world before the Party.  It represents that other world, and it also represents the beauty of the love Julia and Winston have found even though love is forbidden in Oceania.  The paperweight is delicate, and clear glass except for the coral in the center.  Like Winston and Julia's love life, the coral is obvious and clearly visible from all sides.  The couple were "loving" in a fishbowl so to speak, and they did not realize they were so vulnerable and obvious.  When the thought police come to the apartment to take them in for questioning, one of the police throws the paperweight across the room and it shatters into tiny shards of what it once was.  This foreshadows what will become of Winston and Julia's relationship.

user profile pic

clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:20 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Not only does it foreshadow what is to come, but Winston looks at the tiny piece of coral that is lying on the floor and he thinks to himself how the beauty of it has somehow been lost now that it isn't surrounded by glass. He thinks to himself how small it looks without the glass to magnify it. This also represents or symbolizes how minute their love for one another is and what they were trying to do in comparison to the Party which is too large and powerful ever to stop. They believed that the acts they were committing against the Party would somehow lead to its eventual downfall and they felt powerful (like the paperweight in its glory). They find out as the book transitions to its third part how small they actually are (just like the piece of coral that has lost its luster).

user profile pic

dkalloch | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Unlike the unsafe and unsecure world that the members of the Party live in, the coral paperweight symbolizes a beautiful, safe and secure environment.

Winston longs for a safe haven to live in, similar to the glass dome in which the piece of coral is encased.  A place where he can be free to love Julia. This is why he chooses to let the room above the store.  It symbolizes the safe haven of a glass dome paperweight where he can care for and protect Julia and they can be free.  Julia is like the beautiful piece of coral. In his room, he can protect her like the piece of coral in its glass enclosure.

user profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted April 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

The paperweight symbolizes something that has no value except for its beauty.  The search for or involvement with the beautiful but useless places emphasis on the individual and his/her appreciation of the beautiful.  Individuality in their world is the enemy, however. They call it ownlife, which is the tendency toward the solitary, the individual, or the subversive. The callousness with which it is destroyed indicates how successful the society has become in squashing individuality.

user profile pic

jenny-bby | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 29, 2009 at 11:28 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

its also a link into the past. It's completly useless but for winston just having something that is from the past is a rush to him

user profile pic

parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 31, 2014 at 2:53 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

The coral paperweight is somewhat one of its kind, which shows that individualism does not exist in Winston's world. Also it portrays how Winston wants to protect a precious but fragile Julia.

user profile pic

parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

It symbolizes the little acts of rebellion by Winston and Julia against Big Brother. They feel their actions, however small, were big and could and would cause the downfall of Big Brother. However, from a larger perspective, and after a certain period of time, they realize the significance of their acts are small and not very effective at all.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes