Explain the meaning of this quote from George Orwell's 1984: Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were...

Explain the meaning of this quote from George Orwell's 1984:

Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it…. All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. 

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote explains the government's power over the children in the dystopian society depicted in George Orwell's 1984. Parents have no authority over their children, who are influenced from a very young age by the forces of "Big Brother." The children join organizations such as the "Spies," where they dress uniformly in "blue shorts, gray shirs, and red neckerchiefs" and are systematically indoctrinated in the philosophies of the government. The children are taught to love Big Brother and hate "foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals," the "enemies of the State;" they are encouraged to attend public hangings, and as such are desensitized to violence. The children will report to the authorities anyone who engages in questionable activities or who criticizes the government, including their parents, and indeed are praised as "child hero[es]" for doing so. Parents have no control over their children, who have been turned into "ungovernable little savages" by their training.

There is no love cultivated between children and their parents; through early and constant indoctrination, the children's devotion is all directed towards Big Brother. Tragically, parents actually fear their own children, because they know that their children's loyalties lie with Big Brother, and that should they even suspect their parents of deviation from the strict codes of behavior mandated by the government, they will not hesitate to turn them in (Part 1, Chapter 2).

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote is taken from Part One, Chapter Two, when Winston visits his neighbors, the Parsons family. Mrs. Parsons has two children who are members of the Junior Spies, an organization established by the Party with the purpose of creating total obedience to Big Brother. Winston calls these children "horrible" because they are so brainwashed by the Youth Spies that they act as agents of the state, analyzing their parents' behavior and attitudes in the home. As a result, children are well-known to denounce their parents as thoughtcriminals. This explains why so many people "over thirty" are afraid of their children. This fear is evident in Mrs. Parsons. Notice how, for example, she has a "half-apprehensive" look in her eyes when she opens the door to Winston. She is terrified that her children will accuse her of not being zealous enough in her support of the Party.

Mrs. Parsons's fears are not without foundation. In Part Three, Winston meets Mr. Parsons in the Ministry of Love and he confesses that it was his own daughter was responsible for his arrest.

Read the study guide:
1984

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question