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What are some explanations of insightful passages from Chapters 1-3 of 1984 ?..

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yanie8888 | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:08 PM via iOS

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What are some explanations of insightful passages from Chapters 1-3 of 1984 ?..

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 30, 2013 at 9:09 PM (Answer #1)

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Although George Orwell's cautionary tale of 1984 was erroneously dated, there are clearly aspects of the narrative that presaged what was to come after its publication in 1949 while at the same time giving "words and shapes to common but unarticulated fears running deep through all industrial societies," according to longtime CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. Cronkite's words written in 1983 foretell, in turn, some of what we know today:

[1984] was, as many have noticed, a warning...about the future of human freedom in a world where political organization and technology can manufacture power in dimensions that would have stunned the imaginations of earlier ages.

Here are some significant passages:

  • Chapter I

The thing he was about to do was to open a diary....if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labor camp....He dipped the pen into the ink and then faltered for just a second. A tremor had gone through his bowels. To mark the paper was the decisive act. In small clumsy letters he wrote:
                          April 4th 1984

*****

In the society of 1984, no independent thinking is allowed; keeping a journal of his ideas is an act against the slogan "SLAVERY IS FREEDOM." In Winston's society, all free thought is punishable, so he sits in an alcove where the screen of Big Brother cannot see what he does. However, Winston seems to have lost the ability to express himself, to think without propaganda threading through his ideas.

  • Chapter II

"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course, the greatest wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be gotten rid of....After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of another word?.... "Ungood" will do just as well...because it's the exact opposite....What sense is there in "excellent"..."Plusgood" covers the meaning....Don't you see the beauty of that, Winston?

*****

At lunchtime Winston talks with his friend Syme, who works in the Research Department. He later tells Winston, "You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words." But, Winston looks at him, thinking that one day his friend will be destroyed because he understands too much. For example, he tells Winston that the whole climate of thought will change; in fact, there will be little thought, at all. So, Winston foresees that Syme will be "vaporized" because he understands that the government does not want people to be capable of thinking. For, destroying words destroys thought. While Syme embraces this idea now, he may change his mind and with his knowledge, he can then become a threat to the totalitarian government.

  • Chapter III

...his mother's death...had been tragic and sorrowful in a way that was no longer possible. Tragedy...belonged to the ancient time, to a time when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.  His mother...had sacrificed herself to a conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable. Such things...could not happen today....Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, or deep or complex sorrows.

*****

This passage points to all that has been lost in the new society of Winston. There are no real families, no loyalties, no unselfish love, no deep emotions of any kind other than fear, hatred, and pain. With no familial loyalties, the State has no competition.

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