What happened to Winston's family in chapters 1 through 3 of 1984?
The very fact that the text is not specific about Winston's fate in this excellent novel gives testament to the way that Big Brother has been able to warp and manipulate and ultimately control the memory of his citizens. Winston is only left with fleeting memories, vague impressions and imprecise recollections of his father, mother and baby sister that often surface in his subconscious, as they do at the beginning of Chapter Three, when Winston wakes up from a dream of his mother. Note how these memories are presented:
He must, he thought, have been ten or eleven years old when his mother had disappeared. She was a tall, statuesque, rather silent woman with slow movements and magnificent fair hair. His father he remembered more vaguely as dark and thin, dressed always in neat dark clothes (Winston remembered especially the very thin soles of his father's shoes) and wearing spectacles. The two of them must evidently have been swallowed up in one of the first great purges of the fifties.
Winston is only left with fragments that he tries to piece together, however the one overwhelming certainty that he has is that his family died so that he might live. Precisely how this happened he is unsure of, but this is the message that comes through from his subconscious.