What is the effect of comparing the man from the Fiction Department to a duck?



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The man in question is sitting at a table adjacent to Winston and Syme in the cafeteria at the Ministry of Truth. He is talking to a young woman, and Winston, not exactly eavesdropping, catches a phrase here and there of what he is saying. What is striking to Winston is that he is talking almost constantly, saying things like "complete and final elimination of Goldsteinism" and other Party truisms and shibboleths without stopping to take a breath. Winston realizes that it doesn't really matter what he's saying, because he's not thinking while he's saying it. The man has been so programmed that whatever he's saying, it is "pure orthodoxy, pure Ingsoc." Winston gets the sense that the man is not even really a human, but more of a talking dummy. The overall effect of it is that the man's speech has no more intellectual weight than the quacking of a duck. He is simply repeating things he's been trained to say almost instinctively, much like a duck quacks. Fittingly, as if he can read Winston's mind, Syme points out that there is a new word in Newspeak called "Duckspeak," which, depending on connotation, can be a compliment or an insult. In other words, people who can talk for hours on end without really saying anything are, to a point, admirable in this society. This passage, easily overlooked, is very important to understanding Orwell's point about the role of language in expanding the powers of the state.


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