1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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How can we connect Winston's hallucination of his sinking mother and countryside to Big Brother in the novel?

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In Winston's dream of his sinking mother, she and his baby sister are in the saloon, or great room, of a sinking ship. They are sinking, but there is still air in their ship, and they are looking up at him. He is safe, but they are dying.

Winston understands, as he ponders the dream, that somehow they sacrificed their lives for him. He then thinks that it is impossible that such a personal tragedy could occur anymore. He ruminates,

Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.

This connects to Big Brother, because the image of Big Brother has replaced the family as the center of everyone's loyalty. Big Brother is an abstraction, a face on a poster or a television screen, not a living human whom you know and are loyal to in the flesh as you are to a family member.

In the dream of the Golden Country, Winston comes to a lovely, old fashioned countryside with elms, willows, and a stream where he meets a dark-haired young woman. She flings her clothes off in one magnificent gesture. Winston describes this gesture as follows:

With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm. That too was a gesture belonging to the ancient time.

Both the dream of his mother and the dream of the dark-haired woman represent striking out against the world of Big Brother. In both, Winston defiantly embraces the superiority of a former time—an "ancient" time, though not so long ago—when people were allowed to have free, individual, loving relationships with each other.

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