Summary of the Novel
The concepts of free enterprise and individual freedom no longer exist in 1984. Only three superpowers remain to dominate a world of hatred, isolation, and fear. Eurasia and Eastasia are two of these superpowers. Oceania, the other, is always at war with one of them.
Winston Smith is a 39-year-old employee at the Ministry of Truth, London, located in Oceania. His world is shaped by the Party and its dictator/leader Big Brother, whose face is everywhere on posters captioned “Big Brother Is Watching You.” Big Brother controls life in Oceania through the four ministries of Peace, Love, Plenty, and Truth. Winston’s job at the Ministry of Truth involves revisions of historical documents and rewrites of news stories to reflect the Party’s infallibility.
The Party, which carries out government policies in Oceania, rations food, issues clothing, and selects social activities. Both chocolate and tobacco are in short supply during this latest war. Winston’s clothing, including his tattered pajamas, is government issued, and his evenings are spent in government-sponsored meetings.
War and hatred dominate Oceania, where the Party monitors every move and expression with telescreens, hidden microphones, and spies. The Thought Police, Big Brother’s secret militia, help the Party quell any sign of revolt by eliminating all who think or behave in a disloyal fashion. Hate Week intensifies feeling against Emmanuel Goldstein, Enemy of the People, while increasing devotion to Big Brother. The Party also preaches that the proles, the majority, are natural inferiors to be kept in check.
The Party, however, does not completely control Winston. He secretly buys an illegal diary in which he writes the heresy “Down With Big Brother.” In doing so, he commits the worst offense, “thoughtcrime,” a Newspeak term for the “essential crime that contained all others in itself.” Many of Winston’s thoughts revolve around his attempts to remember various events and people from his childhood, especially his mother who had disappeared years before. Winston tries to investigate the specifics of life in London before the Revolution, but it seems the Party has been successful in eradicating all remnants of daily life in the past.
Winston enters into an affair with the free-spirited Julia, a fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. At the beginning they view their desire for one another as a political act against the Party dominated by hate and suspicion. Since promiscuity among Party members has been forbidden, they view their affair as an act of rebellion. As the affair continues, Winston’s feelings for Julia change. Although the couple knows the affair is doomed, they continue to meet secretly in an attic room above a junk shop owned by Mr. Charrington, the man who sold the diary, and later, a coral paperweight, to Winston. The lovers discuss the repressiveness of their lives and the possibility of joining the Brotherhood, the secret underground of Emmanuel Goldstein whose express purpose is to overthrow Big Brother.
At work at the Ministry of Truth, Winston is approached by O’Brien, an acquaintance who seems to share his views. After Winston and Julia visit O’Brien at his apartment, he recruits them as members of the Brotherhood and promises to send them a copy of Goldstein’s book, which details strategies to destroy Big Brother. Winston pledges to do whatever it takes, including murder and suicide, to erode the power of the Party.
The inevitable occurs when Julia and Winston are arrested in their secret room, betrayed by Mr. Charrington, a member of the Thought Police. Winston is taken to the Ministry of Love where he is starved, beaten, and tortured during the next months in an effort to “cure” him. Ironically, his torturer is O’Brien, who confirms his identity as a dedicated Inner Party member. Winston submits after a long struggle when he is taken to the mysterious room 101 and threatened with a cage of hungry rats prepared to devour him. At this point he finally betrays Julia.
Soon Winston is released, but he awaits the bullet he knows will extinguish him. He unexpectedly runs into Julia, who admits that she too had betrayed their love. Surprisingly, Winston feels no desire for her, preferring instead to take his usual seat at the Chestnut Street Cafe where he spends another night in his habitual alcoholic stupor. Winston knows that it is only a matter of time before the Party executes him; nevertheless, when the telescreen barks the news of the army’s latest victory, he weeps with joy. The Party finally controls Winston, whose defeat is summed up in the final sentence, “He loved Big Brother.”
1984 is George Orwell’s most famous and enduring work, with the possible exception of his political fable Animal Farm. The novel has been translated into more than 60 languages, condensed in the Reader’s Digest, made into two movies, and presented on television.
The widespread impact of 1984 is evidenced by the changes in language that it effected. Today, the word “Orwellian” refers to any regimented and dehumanized society. Words like “Newspeak,” “unperson,” “doublethink,” and “thoughtcrime” have become part of the English language. And the familiar phrase “Big Brother Is Watching You” has become synonymous with the concept of a totalitarian state.
1984’s influence on other twentieth-century works has been considerable: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1954) shares the theme of repression and the destruction of a culture (in this case, books), and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962) shares a British setting as well as an invented language, much like the Newspeak of Oceania.
Orwell thought of writing 1984 as early as 1940, during World War II but he did not complete it until 1948 when the Cold War was beginning. The anti-Fascist writing of the 1930s and 1940s had a profound influence on Orwell, and is reflected in his writing.
Moreover, events in Communist Russia also impacted the plot and theme of 1984. From 1922 when Lenin suffered a stroke until 1928—four years after his death—there was a power struggle between Leon Trotsky Minister of War, and Joseph Stalin then Secretary of the Communist party. Stalin continued to grow even more influential as a member of the Politbureau, a small group of party bosses where his function was to manage the day-to-day activities of the Communist party. In 1921 Stalin became liaison between the Central Control Commission and the Central Committee; in this capacity he could control the purges designed to keep the party pure. He used this position to his advantage.
Stalin, along with allies Zinoviev and Kamenev, soon proved invincible as they utilized the secret police to put down all plots against them. While resisting Trotsky’s urges to somewhat democratize the party, they eliminated his followers by sending them abroad. Trotsky was forced to resign as Minister of War. He was later expelled from the Politbureau, exiled from Russia, and eventually assassinated by one of Stalin’s secret police.
From 1928 until World War II, Stalin enjoyed supreme power in Russia. Among the changes he brought to Russian life were collective agriculture, industrialization with forced labor, and the build-up of the authoritarian state combined with the annihilation of all political opposition. In 1928 began the era of the Five-Year Plans, each of which set ambitious goals for the next five years. The goals of the first Five-Year Plan were never actualized; nevertheless, the government announced that they had been realized in 1932. Immediately, another Five-Year Plan went into effect.
Changes were felt in Russian society as well. Freedom to choose one’s job was non-existent; those who resisted were sent to labor camps. Stalin’s dictatorship was complete when the vast majority of unskilled workers became controlled by a minority of loyal skilled workers and bureaucrats who enjoyed certain privileges restricted from the masses. Thus, the gulf between the classes widened and a new elite was created.
To refute contradictory information, Stalin had histories rewritten to show that Lenin had favored his accession to power. He enjoyed a certain amount of hero-worship as cities were named in his honor.
There were critics, however, whom Stalin eliminated during the Great Purges of 1934-1938, which destroyed all possibility of future conspiracies. By 1936, when Stalin proclaimed the constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) “the most democratic in the world,” this was hardly an accurate description.
Under Stalin’s dictatorship, the USSR had become a one-party state where elections were a mockery. Although all were eligible to belong to the Communist party, membership was, in fact, a privilege. The party was built upon a pyramidical structure with power and privilege for an elite few. At each level of the pyramid existed organizations to generate propaganda, train military personnel, and educate bureaucrats. All of these activities were designed to increase party loyalty and strength. Stalin remained a dictator through World War II until his death in 1953. Some elements in the plot of 1984 parallel this history.
Five books, in particular, seem to have had a direct impact on the creation of 1984. Fyodor Zamyatin’s We (1923), reviewed by Orwell in 1946, provided the idea for a futuristic, anti-Utopian frame for the novel. There are several resemblances between the works, both of which are also derived from H. G. Wells’ anti-Utopian satire When the Sleeper Walks (1899). Likewise, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), to which 1984 is frequently compared, is set in the future and deals with a regimented society. From Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (1941), Orwell took ideas about the atmosphere of a totalitarian society. This “concentration camp” literature details the struggle of its main character to maintain his individuality after his arrest and torture. James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution (1941) gave Orwell the idea for a world controlled by superstates. These powers became the Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia of 1984.
The novel’s bleak ending prompted readers and critics to take it as an attack on socialism in general and Communist Russia in particular and a prophesy of what would happen in the West should communism spread. Orwell was asked if his book should be interpreted as prophesy. He answered this question in a letter of June 1949:
I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily WILL, but I believe (allowing of course for the fact that the book is a satire) that something resembling it COULD arrive. I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences. (1)
In 1949, some readers were also concerned that Orwell had set the novel in Britain. Orwell replied, “The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not FOUGHT against, could triumph anywhere.” (2)
Opinions among critics have not been entirely favorable. Some point to the novel’s overwhelming pessimism and its denouement as flawed, claiming the novel obviously is a reflection of Orwell’s last illness. Others believe that it should be judged as a period piece bearing little relevance to today’s world. After all, there was no special significance to the title. Orwell simply transposed the last two numbers of the year in which he finished the book.
Thus, it can be seen that a number of factors influenced the creation of 1984, including literary sources and historical events. In order to understand the full impact of this novel, the student needs to be familiar with these influences.
List of Characters
Winston Smith–main character of the novel, 39 years old, employee at the Ministry of Truth, inquisitive, intelligent.
Big Brother–supreme leader of the Party, controlling force of Oceania, never physically appears in the novel but is ever-present.
Thought Police–secret militia; Big Brother’s agents who eliminated potential rebels.
O’Brien–member of the Inner Party, employee at the Ministry of Truth, Winston’s chief.
Julia–Winston’s lover, 26-year-old employee at the Ministry of Truth, worker for the Junior Anti-Sex League.
Syme–Winston’s friend, specialist in Newspeak, employee in the Records Department.
Mr. Charrington–63-year-old shopkeeper, rents hideaway to Winston, secret member of the Thought Police.
Tillotson–employee in the Records Department, disliked by Winston.
Tom Parsons–Winston’s neighbor at Victory Mansions, devoted to the Party, arrested for “thoughtcrime.”
Mrs. Parsons–Tom’s wife, about 30, looks older, possibly will be denounced by her children to the Thought Police.
Martin–O’Brien’s servant, fellow Party member.
Emmanuel Goldstein–Enemy of the People, commander of the Brotherhood, former member of the Party, author of the “book,” probably a creation of the Party.
Katharine–Winston’s wife, disappeared 11 years ago, loyal member of the Party.
Winston’s mother–disappeared years ago; appears only in Winston’s dreams and vague memories.
Estimated Reading Time:
1984 is divided into three major sections of approximately equal length, each with separate chapters. Orwell also included an appendix on Newspeak. Thus, in order to maximize understanding, the reader should plan no fewer than four reading sessions.
By reading approximately 30 pages per hour, the reader should be able to complete the entire novel in 8 to 12 hours. He or she should also plan to spend more time on Part I, where Orwell establishes the frameworks of plot, characterization, and theme.
1. J. R. Hammond, A George Orwell Companion—A Guide to the Novels, Documents, and Essays (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982), pg. 172.
2. Ibid, pg. 173.
Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Nineteen Eighty-Four, a grim satire directed against totalitarian government, is the story of Winston Smith’s futile battle to survive in a system that he has helped to create. The novel is set in 1984 (well into the future when the novel was written) in London, the chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous of the provinces of Oceania, one of three world powers that are philosophically indistinguishable from, and perpetually at war with, one another.
Smith, thirty-nine, is in marginal health, drinks too much, and lives alone in his comfortless apartment at Victory Mansions, where he is constantly under the eye of a television surveillance system referred to as Big Brother. Smith’s wife, Katharine, who lived with him briefly in a loveless marriage—the only kind of marriage permitted by the government—has long since faded from Smith’s life, and his day-to-day existence has become meaningless, except insofar as he has memories of a time in his childhood before his mother disappeared. In the midst of this meaningless existence, Smith is approached clandestinely by Julia, a woman who works with him in the Ministry of Truth. She passes him a note that says, “I love you.”
The next several months are passed with “secret” meetings between Winston and Julia. From Mr. Charrington, a shopkeeper from whom Winston has bought a diary and an ornamental paperweight, they secure what they believe is a room with privacy from...
(The entire section is 980 words.)
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Externally, Winston Smith appears well adjusted to his world. He drinks the bitter victory gin and smokes the vile victory cigarettes. In the morning, he does his exercises in front of the telescreen, and when the instructor speaks to him over the two-way television, he bends with renewed vigor to touch the floor. His apartment is dingy and rickety, but at thirty-nine years old, he is scarcely old enough to remember a time when housing had been better. He has a decent job at the Ministry of Truth because he has a good mind and the ability to write newspeak, the official language. He is a member of the outer ring of the Party.
One afternoon, after giving up his lunch at the ministry, Winston has a little free time to himself. He goes to an alcove out of reach of the telescreen and furtively takes out his journal. It is a noble book with paper of fine quality, unobtainable at present. It is an antique, bought on an illicit trip to a secondhand store run by old Mr. Charrington. Although it is not illegal to keep a diary—there are no laws in Oceania—it makes him suspect. He writes ploddingly about a film he had seen about the valiant Oceania forces strafing shipwrecked refugees in the Mediterranean.
Musing over his writing, Winston finds to his horror that he had written a slogan against Big Brother several times. He knows this act is a crime, even if the writing is due to his drinking gin. Even to think of such a slogan is a crime. Everywhere...
(The entire section is 1217 words.)
In George Orwell’s 1984 Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party from Oceania (a fictional state representing both England and America), lives in all visible ways as a good party member, in complete conformance with the wishes of Big Brother—the leader of the Inner Party (Ingsa). He keeps his loathing for the workings of the Party—for the vile food and drink, the terrible housing, the conversion of children into spies, the orchestrated histrionics of the Two Minutes’ Hate—deep inside, hidden, for he knows that such feelings are an offense punishable by death, or worse. But, as the year 1984 begins, he has decided, against his better judgment, to keep a diary in which his true feelings are laid bare. He sits back in an alcove in his dingy apartment, just out of view of the telescreen (two-way television screens that are in all buildings and homes, which broadcast propaganda and transmit back the activities of anyone passing in front of the screen) and writes of his hatred for Big Brother.
Winston works at the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue, in Newspeak), the branch of the government responsible for the production and dissemination of all information. Winston’s job is to alter or “rectify” all past news articles which have since been “proven” to be false. Only once has he ever held in his hands absolute proof that the Ministry was lying. It concerned three revolutionaries, Jones, Aaronson, and...
(The entire section is 1225 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Winston Smith: main character, employee at the Ministry of Truth
Big Brother: leader/dictator of the Party
O’Brien: official of the Inner Party, Winston’s co-worker at the Ministry of Truth
Emmanuel Goldstein: Enemy of the People
Julia: 26-year-old employee at the Ministry of Truth, worker for the Junior Anti-Sex League
On a cold afternoon in April 1984, Winston Smith returns to his apartment at Victory Mansions. He barely notices the many posters of a 45-year-old man with a black moustache whose captions read “Big Brother Is Watching You.”
Inside the apartment is a telescreen through which the Thought Police monitor one’s every action and sound. Winston turns his back to the telescreen and looks out on London, chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous province of Oceania. He sees bombed sites contrasted against the gleaming Ministry of Truth, which dominates the landscape. He reads the three slogans of the party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Winston also sees the three other ministries of government: Peace, Love, and Plenty. The stark, windowless Ministry of Love frightens Winston because no one enters except on official business.
Winston positions himself out of the telescreen’s range, drinks a cup of gin,...
(The entire section is 1040 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Parsons: Winston’s neighbor
Winston’s writing is interrupted by his neighbor, Comrade—or Mrs.—Parsons, who asks his help with a repair. Her children play a favorite game: Spies. Thinking of the “child heroes” who denounce their parents, Winston supposes that the Parsons’ children are typical of most others. Dressed in the uniform of the Spies, the children leap about accusing Winston of all sorts of crimes, including “thoughtcrime.” Mrs. Parsons explains the children’s exuberance as pent-up energy because they have not been out of the house all day. It seems she has been unable to take them to the much-anticipated public execution of Eurasian soldiers, the latest prisoners of war.
Back in his apartment as he prepares to write, Winston remembers a dream in which someone whispers, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” Winston believes the speaker is O’Brien, but his confusion persists as to what the message means.
The telescreen barks the announcement of another military victory followed by a long description of the execution of Eurasian soldiers. Next comes the not-so-surprising edict that the chocolate ration has been reduced. In the background Winston hears a rocket bomb explode, a constant occurrence these days.
Winston feels alone. He questions a number of factors regarding his existence. Did anyone...
(The entire section is 657 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
Winston’s mother: appears only in Winston’s dreams, disappeared many years ago
Winston only vaguely remembers his parents, who disappeared in one of the Great Purges of the fifties. Winston’s only memory of his father is of the thin soles on his shoes.
He recalls his mother and sister in a vivid dream where, as passengers on a sinking ship, they clutch one another right before it falls to the bottom of the sea. From the expression on his mother’s face, Winston can see that she died loving him. Winston is struck by the impossibility of this emotion’s existence in a society now dominated by war and hatred. Things have certainly changed since her disappearance when Winston was only 10 or 11.
His mind wandering, Winston drifts to a recurrent dream of a young girl approaching him in an open meadow that he calls the Golden Country. As she draws nearer, she throws off her clothes and gestures to Winston with a single, graceful movement of her arm. Winston is especially captivated by the freedom with which she makes this gesture.
A screaming telescreen leading the morning calisthenics awakens Winston who is muttering the word “Shakespeare.” He finds these exercises particularly difficult as the exertion always leads to a coughing fit, but Winston continues to think as he mechanically follows through with the Physical Jerks.
(The entire section is 652 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis
Tillotson: employee in the Records Department
Syme: Winston’s friend, expert in Newspeak
Tom Parsons: Winston’s neighbor and coworker, loyal to the Party
Winston’s job at the Ministry of Truth is to alter or “rectify” records to create documentary evidence supporting the Party. As soon as he finishes with the day’s assignment, he drops the instructions into the memory hole, where he assumes they are destroyed along with the papers containing the original information.
The Records Department is only a small branch of the Ministry of Truth, the primary purpose of which is to supply the citizens of Oceania with information and entertainment via newspapers, textbooks, films, novels, and telescreen programs. The Ministry also creates entirely different information on a lower level for the proles, including the lowest form of pornography, “Pornosec,” forbidden to Party members except those who have created it.
Winston loves his work, which for the most part is tedious, but in some ways challenging as he tries to anticipate what the Party wants him to say in his “revised” documents. There is a certain amount of competition among workers; Winston suspects that Tillotson, a coworker, has received the same assignment.
Today, as part of a revision of Big Brother’s Order of the Day, Winston plans to commemorate the...
(The entire section is 1035 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 6 and 7 Summary and Analysis
Katharine: Winston’s wife, loyal Party member who disappeared years ago
At home, Winston continues the illicit diary. His next entry begins with a vivid account of an encounter with a prostitute many years before. Writing this account, an exercise in frustration, makes him want to bang his head against the wall.
It occurs to Winston that one’s worst enemy is his own nervous system. He thinks of a passerby on the street who was having muscle spasms; most frightening was the fact that they were unconscious. This leads Winston to observe the most deadly danger of all: talking in one’s sleep.
Winston tries to refocus on the diary, but he can’t. He thinks of Katharine, his wife, whom he recollects with revulsion. She truly believed what she had been taught: The only recognized purpose of marriage is to have children for the service of the Party. Finally, when the marriage had produced no children, she disappeared approximately 11 years ago.
As he finally gets his thoughts under control, Winston finishes this entry with a matter-of-fact account of a sex act with a prostitute, and then throws down the pen with disgust.
Winston explores his frustrations as he later continues to write. He believes that the only hope for the future lies with the proles who comprise 85 percent of the population. In Winston’s estimation the Party could never...
(The entire section is 1004 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Charrington: kindly old shopkeeper.
London is bombed as the war continues. Winston, who sees a human hand in an alley, has little reaction as he kicks it into the gutter.
On this long walk he meets an old man in a bar whom he asks about life before the Revolution. The old man has no recall of anything significant; as a result, Winston’s frustrations are intensified.
He wanders into the junk shop where he had bought the diary. There he buys a coral paperweight from the shopkeeper, Mr. Charrington, who seems glad for the business as antiques are not much in demand these days.
In an upstairs room Winston notices the absence of the telescreen and the presence of a print of a local church, St. Clement’s Dane, now ruined because of the war. Charrington and Winston are familiar with the rhyme “Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s,” although Winston has trouble remembering the last lines. Winston feels safe and hopeful here where at least some vestiges of the past remain.
In order to avoid being detected in this area of the city, Winston soon leaves. As he exits the shop, he sees the girl from the Fiction Department. Convinced she is a spy, he hurries along.
Surely, the Thought Police will seize him, thinks Winston, who is reminded of O’Brien’s statement in his dream: “We shall meet in the place where...
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Four days after spotting the girl from the Fiction Department outside the junk shop, Winston sees her at work. After falling in the corridor she is having trouble regaining her balance since her arm is in a sling. Before he tries to help, Winston feels confused. On one hand, he believes the girl might be an enemy out to kill him; on the other hand, he sees a fellow human being in need. As Winston helps her from the ground, she slips a note into his hand.
Winston returns to his work station to begin some routine task. He thinks about the note. Maybe it is a summons from the Thought Police or perhaps a message from the underground, possibly from the Brotherhood. As soon as he senses that he is not being watched, Winston opens the note which reads, “I love you.” Shocked, Winston rereads the note even though he risks detection in doing so. He then throws the note down the memory hole.
Now Winston’s biggest problem lies in arranging to meet the girl whose sincerity he does not doubt. After reviewing a number of options—all unworkable—Winston decides that the canteen at work is the best place to meet her again.
A week passes. Winston has no idea what has happened to the girl. The next day he sees her in the canteen and nearly succeeds in speaking to her, but he is invited to eat lunch at another table. He cannot safely refuse.
Finally, on the next day, they meet at work. Winston fears...
(The entire section is 676 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
After traveling a considerable distance, Winston arrives at the predesignated meeting spot. Although there are no telescreens, he worries about concealed microphones and patrolling soldiers who might check his passport.
The girl arrives and leads Winston to a clearing on a grassy knoll surrounded by trees. Winston worries about rejection, but the girl is not put off by his age, physical appearance, or marital status. They embrace and kiss but Winston has no physical desire for her. He merely feels incredulous over the entire experience.
Winston finally learns her name: Julia. He confesses that he had hated the sight of her, thinking she was a member of the Thought Police. Telling the truth as a love offering seems a good prelude to the affair. Julia, in response, rips off the scarlet sash around her waist, the symbol of the Junior Anti-Sex League. She offers Winston a small piece of chocolate she obtained through the black market. The smell provokes Winston to a vague recollection, but he cannot remember exactly why the odor should be so disturbing.
Julia confesses that the reason she had selected Winston was that she is good at spotting people who do not belong. Instinctively, she knows Winston is against the Party.
Arms intertwined, the couple strolls to the edge of the field where they will leave one another. Winston recognizes the field from the one in his recurring dream, the Golden...
(The entire section is 669 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
During the next few weeks Julia and Winston make love only once, in a ruined church Julia knows. Since meeting is so dangerous, sometimes after arriving at a spot the most they can do is exchange glances. Time is a problem as well, since so many evenings are devoted to Party activities.
Winston learns more about Julia. She is 26 years old; she lives in a hostel with 30 other women, and she works on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. By her own admission she is not intelligent. Although she enjoys the process of creating books, she has little regard for reading them.
Julia remembers nothing prior to the early sixties. She is well-regarded at work, having been selected to work in Pornosec, the subdivision of the Fiction Department which produces cheap pornography for the proles.
To Julia, life is simple. She believes in having a good time and finds it necessary to break Party rules in order to do so. She hates the Party because it has infringed on her personal freedoms, but she seems disinterested in Party doctrine or in an organized Revolution.
The couple realizes the impossibility of marriage because the Party would never sanction such a union. Besides, Winston is already married. He tells Julia the details of his marriage to Katharine and her outlook on their sexual relations.
Julia, however, already knows the details since she too had been schooled by these...
(The entire section is 676 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis
Winston rents the room above the junk shop. Mr. Charrington, who is obviously glad about the rent, seems unaffected by the fact that the room will be used for a secret affair.
Winston’s paperweight sits on the table. He has brought some Victory Coffee and saccharine. The clock on the mantelpiece reads 7:20, but it is really 19:20 in the outside world.
From the courtyard a solid-looking prole woman sings as she hangs the laundry on the clothesline. She is singing a melody created just weeks before by a versificator in the Music Department. To Winston, the melody, combined with the usual sounds of the neighborhood, seems delightful. Despite the noise, however, without a telescreen the room seems to echo.
Julia arrives with a number of items usually possessed by Inner Party members: sugar, bread, jam, milk, but most importantly, real coffee. Julia matter-of-factly announces that she has stolen these things from “those swine.”
Julia surprises Winston by painting her face with makeup from a shop in the proletarian section. Even though she is not very skillful, Winston appreciates the difference in her appearance since Party women are not allowed to wear makeup. They undress and make love. Julia has never been in a double bed, an uncommon sight except in the homes of proles.
After a brief nap they awaken to prepare some coffee. Winston is due back at his apartment by 23:30....
(The entire section is 703 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis
Syme vanishes, almost as if he had never existed.
Meanwhile, preparations for Hate Week continue. Julia’s department is publishing a series of atrocity pamphlets. Winston spends part of his work day altering sections of old news stories that will be quoted in the latest speeches. The bombings of the city grow more frequent.
New posters that have no caption but show a large Eurasian soldier holding a submachine gun appear all over; wherever one goes the gun seems to follow. These posters seem to outnumber even those of Big Brother. Accompanied by the incessant bombing of innocent children, these posters foster an air of patriotism amidst the chaos of the city.
In the room over Charrington’s shop, Julia and Winston are in paradise. Even the ever-present bugs do not bother them. They meet several times during June.
The changes in Winston are dramatic. He has stopped drinking gin; he has gained weight; and his varicose ulcer has healed. He and Julia treasure this secret hiding place; just knowing it is theirs is a constant source of happiness. Although they know the affair is bound to end, as long as they have the room they feel no harm will come.
Sometimes they talk about rebellion against the Party, but neither has any idea of how to put their plans into action. They are not even sure that the Brotherhood exists, or how they could get into it. Winston considers approaching...
(The entire section is 830 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis
O’Brien approaches Winston at work to talk to him about one of his recent articles on Newspeak. O’Brien refers to a friend whose name happens to have slipped his mind who has a high opinion of Winston’s work.
Winston thinks briefly of Syme, but Syme has been abolished, has become an “unperson.” Still, Winston believes this remark was intended as a sort of signal. In sharing this small act of thought-crime, Winston and O’Brien become accomplices.
As they continue down the hall, O’Brien remarks that Winston has used two words that are now obsolete in Newspeak. He offers Winston a new tenth edition of the Newspeak dictionary—not yet readily available—suggesting that Winston might pick it up at his apartment.
In full view of the telescreen, O’Brien scribbles his address on paper and hands it to Winston. After memorizing the address, Winston throws the paper down the memory hole. Winston believes that O’Brien has contrived the meeting to let him know his address, since there are no directories of any sort.
Winston knows it is only a matter of time before he visits O’Brien. Frightened, he feels a chilling sensation passing through his body as he has the sensation of stepping into a grave.
Discussion and Analysis
This chapter is a turning point in the novel. An anxious Winston is approached by O’Brien, who dupes him into committing...
(The entire section is 366 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis
Awakening from yet another dream, Winston remembers his last glimpse of his mother and the circumstances of her disappearance. For the first time he clearly remembers these events, which had been deliberately suppressed for years.
Winston remembers childhood afternoons spent scavenging the garbage bins for scraps. Even his father had been unable to fulfill his role as provider; Winston’s most vivid memory of him is of his thin-soled shoes. After his father’s disappearance, Winston’s mother had merely gone through the motions of housekeeping and child care (a woman’s role at that time); she seemed to be waiting for something to happen.
After a lapse of some weeks, a chocolate ration had been issued. The meager two ounces was meant to be divided into three equal parts, but young Winston had put up quite a fight for more than his share despite his mother’s repeated requests that he consider his younger sister. Finally, she gave most of the chocolate to Winston, who also snatched his sister’s portion before running from the apartment. As he reached out for the candy, Winston’s mother instinctively had put her arm around his sister in a protective gesture.
Later, when he was again hungry, Winston had returned to the apartment, but his mother and ailing sister were gone. Even today, he does not really know what happened to them.
With this dream so vivid, especially the picture of...
(The entire section is 809 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary and Analysis
Martin: O’Brien’s servant
After taking separate routes to avoid detection, Winston and Julia arrive at O’Brien’s apartment, where they are admitted by the servant, Martin.
For a moment, Winston feels embarrassed and somewhat stupid for believing O’Brien to be a political ally without any substantial proof.
O’Brien turns off the telescreen, a privilege granted only to Inner Party members. Confessing that he believes O’Brien is involved in the underground, Winston expresses a wish to join. He admits that he and Julia are thoughtcriminals and adulterers. He tells O’Brien they want to put themselves at his mercy.
After Martin serves wine, they all drink a toast to Emmanuel Goldstein, leader of the Brotherhood. O’Brien asks a litany of questions to determine Winston’s commitment to revolt. Winston says he is prepared to murder, kill the innocent, lose his identity, even to commit suicide. But when asked whether they are prepared to separate and never see one another again, it is Julia who answers first, “No.”
O’Brien seems pleased with their honesty. He warns them that they will always be in the dark about their orders, which will come directly from him. He promises to send them a book with strategies to destroy the Party. Then they will become official members of the Brotherhood.
(The entire section is 537 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis
Having worked over 90 hours in the past few days, a fatigued Winston makes his way to the hideout at Charrington’s shop with Goldstein’s book. Winston is thinking about the sixth day of Hate Week when, after numerous activities designed to increase hatred of Eurasia, the Party has announced that Oceania is at war with Eastasia and that Eurasia is an ally. After the announcement Winston spent much of the next week rectifying the political literature of the last five years. By the end of the sixth day, no documentary evidence of the war with Eurasia remains.
Upon arriving at Charrington’s shop, Winston begins the book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. Chapter One, “Ignorance Is Strength,” asserts that the goals of the three classes—High, Middle, and Low—contradict one another.
Winston, who is delighted with the freedom to read, now skips to Chapter Three, “War Is Peace.” This chapter details the locations of the three superpowers who have been permanently at war for the last 25 years. The book characterizes war as occurring without motive since, with the advent of self-contained economies, there is no reason to fight. The main purpose of war is to use the surplus of consumer products without raising the standard of living for everyone. When all are satisfied, wealth as a symbol of distinction means nothing. Moreover, once poverty has become nonexistent, people learn to...
(The entire section is 1514 words.)
Part 2, Chapter 10 Summary and Analysis
When Julia and Winston awaken to a cold room, it is 20:30. Winston looks from the window at the ever-present singing prole hanging the laundry below. Winston admires the sturdy peasant; in fact, to him she is beautiful. He thinks of all the people held apart by lies and hatred, yet possessing the same hopes and potential to overturn the world.
Winston suddenly feels convinced that he knows what Goldstein had written as his final message, that hope lies with the proles. Equality translates into sanity.
Winston reminds Julia of the thrush that sang so beautifully that first day they had met in the woods. Winston sees that everyone sings except the Party members. As a member of the Party, he feels dead, but Julia mocks him. From behind the picture comes another mocking voice. The painting crashes to the ground as a telescreen is revealed.
Soldiers intrude and one smashes the paperweight. Someone kicks Winston as he sees Julia double over in pain when she is punched. Flinging her over his shoulder, a soldier takes her from the room.
Winston remains alone with the soldiers. A younger, more authoritative Mr. Charrington steps into the room, and Winston realizes that for the first time he is staring directly at a member of the Thought Police.
Discussion and Analysis
As Winston continues to mull over the unanswered question, he determines that the future must lie...
(The entire section is 359 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Ampleforth: a poet
Winston finds himself in a cold, barren cell, presumably in the Ministry of Love, with telescreens monitoring his every move. This is his second cell. He had shared the first one with several other prisoners, including Party prisoners and common criminals. The Party prisoners were obviously easily intimidated and controlled by the guards, who gave them all the dirty jobs. They never spoke to anyone, including one another, except for a reference to “room one-oh-one.”
As Winston sits alone in his cell thinking of what lies in store, he thinks of O’Brien with hope, for perhaps the Brotherhood will send the razor blade before his next beating. Now Winston understands the meaning of the phrase “the place where there is no darkness.” There are no windows so he cannot tell whether it is day or night; no clocks so he does not know what time it is—only rows and rows of porcelain bricks.
Winston’s reverie is interrupted by the arrival of a prisoner, Ampleforth, who, Winston believes, might bear the razor blade—but this is not so. Ampleforth reveals his “crime”: the inability to remove the word “God” from a line of poetry. The two men cease talking when Ampleforth is taken to Room 101.
To his surprise, Winston is joined by Parsons, who has been arrested for thoughtcrime, which Parsons believes had gotten hold of him...
(The entire section is 773 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
Winston, who continues to be regularly beaten, realizes that these beatings are only the beginning, a matter-of-course. The torture continues by Party members whose aim is to humiliate and belittle him through the use of constant traps and contradictions. This torture is supposed to destroy his power of reasoning.
Even the suggestion of a beating brings Winston to tears, and his only purpose in life now is to avoid a beating by confessing to whatever the Party seems to want—including crimes he could not have possibly committed.
Overhead, a light glares as Winston is strapped into a chair with several surrounding dials. Although he fades in and out of consciousness, he seems to think that O’Brien is in charge of the operation. The voice that whispers that it will save Winston is the same as the one that had whispered, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”
As O’Brien stands over Winston, hand on a lever of a dial, he reminds Winston of his power as he delivers a jolt of electricity. The torturer suggests that Winston suffers from a defective memory. He points to the photo of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford that Winston has always believed validates their innocence. As O’Brien throws Winston’s “hallucination” down the memory hole, he proclaims that it had never existed. Winston suspects that O’Brien has really forgotten the existence of the photo.
(The entire section is 822 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
Having completed the first phase of his treatment, “learning,” Winston moves to the second stage, “understanding,” which he must complete before being allowed to advance to the third stage, “acceptance.”
O’Brien, who admits to collaborating on Goldstein’s book, says that because the proletarians will never revolt, the Party will rule forever.
Winston now understands the “how,” but O’Brien also tells him “why.” Winston believes that O’Brien will tell him that the Party rules for the good of the majority. When he shares this view with O’Brien, he receives another jolt. O’Brien claims that the Party seeks power for its own self-gratification. He illustrates using Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia as examples of failures that could not admit their real motive: power.
O’Brien continues to explain that the real meaning of power lies in its collective characteristic; individuals can only have power when they give up their individuality. Secondly, power is power over the mind; therefore, external reality is unimportant. Since the Party controls the mind, reality stems from inside the skull.
O’Brien is proud that the Party can accomplish anything by making mankind suffer. In the Party’s society, the emotions are hate, fear, triumph, and self-abasement. O’Brien graphically describes a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
The most frightening...
(The entire section is 618 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis
Since the beatings have stopped, Winston slowly has grown stronger, spending much time thinking and dreaming. Acknowledging how futile it had been to resist the Party’s power, Winston recognizes his own insignificance by mechanically writing, “Freedom Is Slavery,” and, “Two and Two Make Five.” Then, he writes “God is Power.” Although he remembers some contrary things, he dismisses the incidents as false memories.
Winston practices “crimestop,” a Newspeak term for the automatic process by which the mind stops any dangerous thought. In the back of Winston’s mind, however, is the recognition that the only sure thing in his life is the certainty that he will be shot from behind. What remains unclear is when this will occur.
In his cell Winston, who is hallucinating, cries out for Julia, an action he immediately regrets. Thoughts of the bullet return. His cell door opens and in walks O’Brien, who seems disappointed that although Winston has been “cured” intellectually, he still presents a problem because he hates Big Brother. He tells Winston that the final step toward love of Big Brother will occur in Room 101, where the worst thing in the world is located.
The worst thing in the world, as it turns out, is all in the mind. In Winston’s case the worst thing in the world is his fear of rats. As Winston begs for mercy, O’Brien...
(The entire section is 474 words.)
Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis
Finishing another Victory Gin, Winston occupies his usual seat in the Chestnut Tree Cafe where his routine is to sit alone in the corner table, drinking gin as he stares at the chessboard. He has been awaiting news of the war with Eurasia; Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.
Winston’s mind wanders as he continues to drink. Staring at the chess pieces in front of him, he briefly entertains the thought that Eurasia might win the war and the Party’s power would be shattered, but the thought quickly fades as he traces “2+2=5” in the dust on the table.
Winston sees Julia after his release. Like him, she has changed. Winston likens her body to the stiffness of a corpse. When they unexpectedly meet in the street, they admit to betraying one another. Winston follows Julia, but the appeal of the Chestnut Tree Cafe is overwhelming because the nonstop supply of gin there is too much to resist.
He remembers a childhood experience when he and his mother had had such a wonderful time laughing as they played Snakes and Ladders by candlelight, but he quickly pushes the image from his mind as a false memory, one of the many he gets.
A horn blast announcing victory interrupts Winston’s reverie. Winston reacts by drinking more gin. Thinking of himself, he looks at the ever-present poster of Big Brother and weeps. He knows that it is not long until the bullet eliminates him, but somehow...
(The entire section is 479 words.)