How does Orwell make their capture in Mr. Charrington's room a dramatic moment?Chapter 8  

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 8 of 1984 Orwell sets up the reader for disappointment just as Charrington sets up Winston for capture.  Orwell uses the readers' hope against them just as Charrington uses "a beautiful thing" against Winston:

That's coral, that is,' said the old man. 'It must have come from the Indian Ocean. They used to kind of embed it in the glass. That wasn't made less than a hundred years ago. More, by the look of it.' 

'It's a beautiful thing,' said Winston.

The coral is symbolic of the secret flat itself: it seems so quaint, natural, and beautiful.  "There's no telescreen!" says the old man when showing Winston the room above his antique shop.  All this is misdirection and situational irony cleverly used by Orwell to make fools of us and Winston.  Chapter 8 is rising action leading to the turning point of the novel: their capture.

Since Winston first wrote in his dairy in Chapter 1, we've been waiting for him to organize a rebellion--or at least find happiness.  Since he met Julia and made love with her in the woods, we've been waiting for Winston and her to organize rebellion with the Proles--or at least find happiness together.  Now, this coral, this old man, this secret flat with no telescreen seems the perfect place from which to stage rebellion.

But, it's all a set up.  Just like Winston, we should have known better.  In the end of this dystopia, all is pain.