Homework Help

Who is Syme and what is his role in 1984?

user profile pic

soccrkidz13 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted January 18, 2012 at 6:22 AM via web

dislike 3 like

Who is Syme and what is his role in 1984?

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 18, 2012 at 8:19 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 4 like

Characters might be flat or round, static or dynamic, but in 1984, Syme plays a specific role.

In my opinion, Syme is a foil to Winston. A foil is a character intended to help show a main character's traits by being opposite in many ways. While Winston is just your average guy, Syme is depicted as rather intelligent. This intelligence further demonstrates that intellect is not valued in this society, because Winston knows that Syme will ultimately die. This discrepancy in how each man reveals his thoughts makes readers empathize even more with Winston. Readers want him to keep living to keep the story alive and hopefully watch him overthrow Big Brother.

Other differences that help show contrast include devotion to Big Brother, level of excitement for the Party, and level of directness in communication. Winston knows to be quiet about his thoughts, whereas Syme blurts out his every idea. Syme clearly loves Big Brother, while Winston wants to take him down.

This contrast also develops readers' eventual disappointment in Winston. Readers realize he does not have all it takes because they have seen more intelligent characters, like Syme.

Sources:

user profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 17, 2008 at 1:25 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

Syme is one of Winston's coworkers at the Ministry of Truth.  The man works specifically in the Research Department of the Ministry, and his current assignment is to develop the Party Dictionary's "Eleventh Edition", paradoxically eliminating scores of words from the lexicon so that "in the end...thoughtcrime (will be) literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it".  Syme is a true believer in Big Brother, and works feverishly to execute his job to perfection.

Syme is always anxious to talk about the work he is doing, and to sing the praises of Big Brother.  He is "venemously orthodox", and he makes Winston feel uncomfortable,  because Winston feels that Syme can see right through him and knows his deviant thoughts.  Winston realizes though, that ironically, Syme will soon be vaporized despite his unquestioning loyalty to the Party.  Winston recognizes that Syme "is too intelligent...he sees too clearly and speaks too plainly...the Party does not like such people...one day he will disappear" (Part I, Chapter 5).

user profile pic

aiacia | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted October 26, 2012 at 1:12 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

I think Syme was a very violent being, he liked to see the hangings in a special way, so that the prisoners who would be hanged should still to his opinion suffer more, Syme might have thought of himself as pretty intelligent, in reality he was not, he was way to talkative, he was also one of these people who tried to make use of Winston, I deduct that from the fact that Syme asked for razor blades to Winston, why wasn't he asking that to anyone else, and it was said in the book that he was a philologist, but the fact that he worked just in the same underrated kind of position as Winston pretty much made it clear to me, that he was not as great a philologist as he might have wanted to be, cause it might be true that the really great workers of the Newspeak-dictionary were, I think Inner-Party-members!

user profile pic

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

Posted February 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Syme is a co-worker who is dedicated and loyal to the Party and believes everything that is given to him by the Party.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes