How does 1984 help young readers develop a social conscience?How does 1984 help young readers develop a social conscience?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that young people of today can gain much in way of social conscience from Orwell's work.  Given apathy towards politics and social service, it might be extremely important for young people to read Orwell's book and come away with some fundamental ideas.  One of these ideas is that if people do not "get turned on" to politics, then politics "will turn" on them.  Big Brother benefits from an apathetic citizenry, a group of people who have no political aspirations or those who are easily appeased into becoming politically numb.  Part of this is by design, but a part of this comes from those in the position of power withering the will of the people.  It is here where young people can gain much to become politically savvy and active in order to avoid the situation present in Oceania. I think that another lesson that young people can gain from Orwell's narrative is that social solidarity, a sense of cohesion with one another despite political differences, is extremely important to countering political oppression.  Political orders that seek to dominate control individuals do not succeed if social orders are cohesive and stand with one another in opposition to such domination.  Big Brother succeeds because there is little in way of social solidarity, out of fear of punishments.  If young people could understand the need to stand with one another, political orders would relent and would have to understand that solidarity trumps political domination.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with part of the first post, but I think that there is actually too much social solidarity in the world of this book.  Everyone believes what the Party tells them to believe.  This means that they are extremely united and feel similar to one another.

I think the book helps us develop a social conscience (or perhaps a social consciousness) in that it encourages us to be skeptical of our leaders.  It shows us how leaders can use propaganda to try to get us all to buy in to a set of lies.  In that sense, we have to see through attempts to manufacture social solidarity.  We have to have a social conscience that allows us to understand when we are being manipulated and try to resist that manipulation.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think the book makes peope think about the world around them, and some facets of our society that they take for granted. I do think the book is misunderstood by some who haven't read it and think they know what it's about. It's entered our folklore.