In "1984" how does Winston react to victory in Africa?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Winston, broken by torture, and supposedly fixed and repaired so that he is no longer a human being with feelings, sits at The Chestnut Cafe, awaiting news about the war in Africa. O'Brien told him, while Winston was imprisoned in the Ministry of Love,

"Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. ... You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty."

However, Winston isn't entirely empty of feeling. Tears well up in his eyes as he sits in the cafe and thinks of running into Julia, then remembers (or hears) the words of a song: "I sold you and you sold me." He wonders, fleetingly, if the "second arrow" in a diagram he has memorized about the war even exists. Finally, tellingly, an "uncalled" memory comes into his mind. It's a memory of domestic happiness, of playing a game of Snakes and Ladders with his mother, while his little sister watches and laughs:

For a whole afternoon they had all been happy together, as in his earlier childhood.

He rejects it as "false," but he has had it and experienced a memory of joy and humanity that was supposed to have been squeezed out of him, just as he has experienced a moment of regret and sadness about Julia. He is not entirely dead inside. He no longer analyzes these human feelings, but he has them.

After this, he feels a "thrill" as he hears the trumpet call that announces the victory in Africa. He feels happy about the victory and then feels love for Big Brother flood him. It is at this moment of love and capitulation to the state that, presumably, the bullet enters and kills him.

Winston's thoughts and feelings just before this, however, leave the ending ambiguous. Winston does die at the moment he loves Big Brother, the face of the totalitarian state, but he dies while not fully emptied of his humanity either.

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Winston is free from the Ministry of Love and is sitting in the Chestnut Cafe.  He is playing chess by himself when the announcement of the Victory over Eurasia in Africa is announced.  He hears the celebration in the streets and imagines himself running with them.  He then imagines himself back in the Ministry of Love and "the longed for bullet in the back of his head."  He drops the white knight from the chess set and realizes that his struggle is over.  Two "gin scented tears run down the sides of his nose."  He realizes after 40 years that he has won the victory over himself and that he "Loves Big Brother."