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What is the symbolic significance of the paperweight and the nursery rhyme about the...

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bn123 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 6, 2007 at 5:00 AM via web

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What is the symbolic significance of the paperweight and the nursery rhyme about the bells in part two?

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 3, 2007 at 1:19 AM (Answer #2)

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First, the paperweight represents a time before the Party was in power, a time when beauty was something to be valued and spend time thinking about and admiring. Now, beauty is not valued and everything is dingy. People don't think and spend time doing things like looking at a beautiful piece of coral inside glass. Winston marvels at having a thing that could ultimately get him killed. It is not the first illegal item he has purchased, but it is when he buys this item that he contemplates doing much more than simply writing in a journal. It is also something he thinks about using as a murder weapon on Julia before they become lovers.

The nursery rhyme is not as old as Winston would like to think and it rather foreshadows his destruction and death later on, "here comes a chopper to chop off your head." While his head isn't literally chopped off, it is somewhat figuratively chopped off int he sense that Room 101 and his experience inside the Ministry of Love has changed Winston. He no longer committs thought crime on the other side of the experience and he ends up losing in the end because he declares his undying loyalty and love to Big Brother right before he is shot in the back of the head.

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acompanioninthetardis | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted July 30, 2014 at 2:58 AM (Answer #3)

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Winston buys a paperweight in an antique store in the prole district that comes to symbolize his attempt to reconnect with the past. The storeowner describes it as “a beautiful little thing”(84). Symbolically, when the Thought Police arrest Winston at last, the paperweight shatters on the floor. it represented his attempts to finding out the truth to discovering himself but and breaking free of the government, but that broke when the weight shattered. 

The old picture of St. Clement’s Church in the room that Winston rents above Mr. Charrington’s shop is another representation of the lost past. Winston associates a song with the picture that ends with the words “Here comes the chopper to chop off your head!” (167) This is an important foreshadow, as it is the telescreen hidden behind the picture that ultimately leads the Thought Police to Winston, symbolizing the Party’s corrupt control of the past.

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