What effect does Big Brother have on Winston in 1984, and how is his obsession with O'Brien different from his attitude toward Big Brother?

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Big Brother is an abstraction, an enemy to Winston as a kind of mystic, unconquerable force rather than as an individual. Winston hates Big Brother as he hates the regime, the Party. When he writes almost uncontrollably in his diary,

DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER
DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

he does so with an exhilaration but a consciousness as well of how useless and impotent this act is. He observes others and their apparent belief that Big Brother is a real person or, rather, a kind of god, and the disconnect between Winston and other people is emphasized. Syme, the most intelligent person Winston knows, comments about the "beauty" of transforming language into a skeletal nightmare of non-expression and admiringly says, "It was BB's idea." Winston just sits there and listens passively.

The obsession with O'Brien is something totally different because not only is O'Brien a person in the flesh, but he is seen by Winston as potential salvation. A subliminal vibe comes through, or Winston thinks it does,...

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