Explain the fatal attraction between Winston and Julia in 1984.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In 1984, there is only a fatal attraction between Winston and Julia if you believe that Julia is not an agent of the Inner Party.  If she is, there is obviously no attraction from Julia's end: she is merely performing a role.  If she is not a double-agent, then these reasons might explain her siren's lure to Winston:

  • Julia is all that Winston is not. Whereas Winston is meek and introverted, afraid of rebellion, Julia goes to extremes for the party (her involvement in the Junior Anti-Sex League) and against it (by going to the room above the shop and to the Golden Country).  Whereas Winston is a rebel above the waist only, Julia is a rebel below the waist.  She uses her sex to attract Winston.
  • Julia reminds Winston of his mother. The psychological torture that the culture places on children to love the state instead of their parents causes Winston to be conflicted in his feelings for his mother.  He loves her, but feels she somehow abandon him.  Sleeping with Julia fills this void, causing Winston to begin to remember his mother fondly.
  • Winston and Julia are like Adam and Eve. Both are sinning on purpose to get into the Garden of Eden, or establish a private relationship outside the eyes of Big Brother.  The two need each other to create a haven from the heartless world.  Their attraction comes in feeling like they are the only two people on earth who have this private hideaway.
  • Really, though, Julia is but a placeholder for Winston's real fatal attraction: Goldstein's Book. Winston is rebel above the waist, and he wants to understand rebellion instead of really participating in it.  He wants to be a prophet and proselytizer of rebellion, so he must read and comprehend that book.  This is how O'Brien catches him so easily:

The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden.

So, we know that Goldstein's book is a decoy, written by O'Brien in order to lure in intellectual rebels.  Might Julia have been a decoy as well?  Or, is there some psychological connection between Winston and Julia that causes them to, even for a few moments, exist outside the world, knowing full well that they will, in the end, be caught and tortured.  So, does it matter if Julia is a decoy or not?  Aren't all in 1984 attracted to pain regardless?