Is Big Brother good or bad for Winston and the other residents of Oceania? 

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While the party maintains that it operates for the good of society, Winston and the people of Oceania suffer at the hands of the party on a daily basis. In the opening paragraphs of the book, for instance, we learn of the omnipresent telescreens which monitor the movements of every party member. For Winston, this constant invasion of privacy contributes to his rebellion against the party. For others, it simply becomes a way of life.

Daily life under the party also illustrates its negative effect on Winston and the citizens of Oceania. In Part 1, Chapter 2, we find descriptions of dilapidated and decayed accommodation: "the plaster flaked constantly from ceilings and walls, the pipes burst in every hard frost." Basic repairs could take years to carry out and had to be approved by a specially-appointed committee. 

The people of Oceania are also plagued by food shortages and rations. In Part 1, Chapter 4, we learn that the chocolate ration is to be reduced from thirty grams to twenty. Instead of being honest with its citizens, the party chooses to rewrite history so as to make it appear that a decline in the ration was always a possibility. This task falls to Winston who has become jaded by the constant manipulation of information. 

Furthermore, in Part 1, Chapter 1, we learn that basic items, like razor blades and shoelaces can only be obtained from the prole district, a place where party members are forbidden to go. This has created a thriving black market but any party member who uses it risks their liberty and life. 

Speaking out about these social evils can be a dangerous business. The party uses extreme violence to subjugate the people of Oceania and uses public executions as a warning to potential rebels. Nobody knows this better than Winston: In Part 2, Chapter 10, he is arrested with his girlfriend, Julia, and the pair are beaten, tortured and taken to Room 101. The number of people he meets in his cell illustrates the normalcy of this practice: it happens every day and nobody can do anything to stop it. It is only the love of Big Brother than can save a condemned man like Winston but this comes at a high price: at the expense of free-thought and free-will. 

 

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