Who takes charge of the conversation between Winston and Julia on page 121 in 1984?



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This page refers to the first time that Julia and Winston actually exchange words. What is interesting about it however is the way that we realise Julia has obviously thought very carefully about this conversation and stage manages it, deliberately falling so that Winston will rush to help her, which will give her the opportunity to pass him a note in secret, as Winston discovers:

Not to let one's feelings appear in one's face was a habit that had acquired the status of an instinct, and in any case they had been standing straight in front of a telescreen when the thing happened. Nevertheless it had been very difficult not to betray a momentary surprise, for in the two or three seconds while he was helping her up the girl had slipped something into his hand. There was no question that she had done it intentionally.

What is so interesting about this scene is that it reveals a lot about Winston's character. It is Julia, not Winston, who brings about their meeting and their union, showing her greater resourcefulness and bravery. The reader gets the feeling that Winston would only have continued to admire Julia from afar and never would have actually done something to try and meet her. This makes the reader question whether Winston can be correctly termed the hero of this novel, as in many ways he seems to be a rather passive character, waiting for others to make the first move.


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