1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Did you like the end of 1984? Does Wilson really love Big Brother or was he faking it?

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Bruce Bergman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The ending of 1984 is disappointing yet seems to underline and emphasize the importance of the book's message. So, yes, even though as a reader I hoped for a different outcome, I liked the ending because I think it makes the book better.

Is Winston's love for Big Brother "real"? Yes, it is in the sense that I think that he has been convinced that there is no other option for him.  Everything else, all other alternatives, have been taken away.

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timbrady eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The ending is the only possible outcome of all we have learned in the book.  The Party's use of power is unconditional, exercised for its own sake.  Whereas other socities might torture a person to get him/her to say what they wanted, the Party would spare nothing to make sure you actually believed that 2+2=5.

They have hit Winston at the core of his being. He has uttered the horrible words "Do it to Julia," and he realizes that he has lost his soul.  When they can get you to deny the reality that means the most in your life, then loving Big Brother is no big deal.

How else could it have turned out?

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I definitely do not like it! But as other editors have posted, I think it is the only ending for the kind of book that 1984 is. I remember distinctly the first time I ever read this book and how I thought Orwell was dangling a "happy ending" in front of me like a carrot all the time - the way that Winston and Julia are able to get together in spite of all the barriers etc. So when I finished it felt like a real kick in the stomach. But I guess that is the point Orwell is trying to make - he is showing the impossibility of revolt under that kind of totalitarian regime. He doesn't want to give us nice cozy feelings at the end of the book - he wants to shock us into realizing the realities of life under a Communist totalitarian state.

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Susan Smith eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Probably a better question would be to ask if Orwell's ending is appropriate.  Of course we the readers don't like it.  We're not supposed to.  The establishment beats down the individual; the individual cannot change or even challenge the system.  The system will break whatever is in its path.  Winston's conversion to Big Brother is not pretense.  Through systematic torture and brainwashing, Winston's life is transformed into a zombie-like existence, only able to mouth his love for Big Brother.  There is no Braveheart here, no Sparticus, in which the body is broken, but the spirit remains rebellious.  Winston caves utterly and completely, as most of us would do if we suffered as he did.  He is more like the protagonist in Cormier's Chocolate Wars or Keasey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.   Orwell's work is a warning to us.  A totalitarian government can break our bodies and our souls.  We must pay attention. 

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with poster #3, and I also feel that particular ending was the only ending the novel could have. It may sound pessimistic, but when dystopian novels have "happy endings", it lessens the impact on me personally. I feel like the author is just aiming to serve the perceived desires of the audience, rather than allowing the story to shape the ending. The true horror of 1984 lies in the fact that Winston, try as he might, cannot escape the control of Big Brother.

It actually reminds me of the director Terry Gilliam's experience in making his dystopian masterpiece Brazil. Similar in many ways to 1984 (ever-present government vigilance, overdose of bureaucracy, etc.), although with a distinct darkly comic feel, this movie originally had a dark ending. Warning, spoiler alert! Gilliam's movie ends with a beautiful escape sequence that is later revealed to be a dream. The camera pans out, and the audience discovers that instead of a miraculous escape, the protagonist has essentially received a lobotomy.

Pretty brutal stuff. Apparently the company backing the film thought so too, and they hired an editor to remake the ending, much to Gilliam's distress. It's known as the "Love Conquers All" version, and it was a bomb (much like the edited "happier" version of Bladerunner). People actually preferred the ending where the hero doesn't actually free himself. I think it speaks to a sense of realism, but also heightens the terror of a dystopian world.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personally, I do not like it at all.  It is really quite depressing.  But what can you expect from that particular book?

As far as faking it, however, I do not think that Winston was faking.  The reason for this is that he was never able to fake it when he was being tortured so why would he be able to fake it now?

When Winston was being tortured, he sincerely wanted to believe all the stuff O'Brien was telling him.  He wanted to believe that he saw the wrong number of fingers.  But O'Brien knew when he was faking it.  So why should it be different now?

So I think he really is not faking it.  He has been so broken by the torture and by life in this society that he has finally lost his sense of himself.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It's hard to "like" the ending to Orwell's work.  When I first read it, I "got" it, but didn't like it much.  Yet, over time, I have come to appreciate it.  Knowing that Orwell was dying as he completed the work, and understood it, helped me grasp why the ending was necessary.  Without a doubt, it is one of the most "redemptionless" endings around.  I like where you are going with the whole "love" of Big Brother idea, but I tend to see it a different way.  Throughout the work, we have seen Winston as possessing a "secondary" consciousness, a realm that he constructs in opposition to the established public realm demanded by Big Brother.  The resistance-based thoughts he harbors, the distrust of the public realm, and the relationship with Julia all represent this identity defined squarely against Big Brother.  His torture and the renouncing of Julia in the face of his worst fears ends up finishing this secondary existence. After this renouncing, Winston no longer has a secondary consciousness or resistance to the state.  Even when he meets Julia again, they both openly state that they rejected each other.  Winston's only consciousness is as a gutted shell of what he once was.  In this, he "loves" Big Brother because of the lack of a divided consciousness.  I don't see this as a full love or embrace of anything, as much as his opposition has been withered away and torn down to tatters.  There is no faking here, as his encounter with Julia proved.   It's difficult to assess whether one "likes" this ending.  In a political setting where the will of the public realm overwhelms the private and in the configuration that Orwell has established, it makes sense that this would be the case.  The hope is that we wish for our characters to rebel against unjust authority.  Yet, the reality is that many, too many to count, failed to do so or simply couldn't.  They became victims to it, individuals who ended up "loving" their own Big Brothers because their own will was withered away or resistance was no longer viable.

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acompanioninthetardis | Student

i thought it was disheartening, after all that torture and thought and risks he took to try and discover things for himself, he was unable to win against the party.

parama9000 | Student

It is really sad when the protagonist finally gives in or in a simpler sense, loses to the "evil" Big Brother.

uaz24 | Student

it was an ok ending. Not to great but not to bad


boryung | Student

The ending of 1984 certainly made sense. It was realistic, and Orwell, by so brutally depriving his readers of a happy ending, emphasized how harshly real such a world as described in 1984 could become. I wouldn't say that I liked the ending, however, because what happened to Winston and Julia was so tragic. In a way, however, such a starkly miserable ending could even be described as refreshing. Some books describing a bleak future dystopia end on a hopeful note, but sometimes it's hard to tell where that hope comes from. By ending his books with violence, heartbreak, and death, Orwell made his warning message stronger.

dereklim | Student

faking, i think. i should be right...