How does Winston demonstrate a fatalistic personality?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Winston Smith demonstrates a fatalistic personality in his awareness that his thoughts and actions will eventually lead to his death. Living in the dangerous totalitarian regime, where Big Brother is constantly watching him, Winston knows that it is only a matter of time before he is arrested, tortured, or publicly executed. As soon as Winston begins writing "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" in his diary, he is aware that his days are numbered. Despite Winston's fear of the consequences of his rebellious actions and thoughts, he is determined to remain human throughout his arrest and torture. As the novel progresses, Winston consciously rebels against the Party by having an affair with Julia, renting a small apartment above Mr. Charrington's shop, and attempting to join the Brotherhood. Winston once again reveals a fatalistic personality when he says, after deciding to rent Mr. Charrington's apartment,

"Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous, suicidal folly" (Orwell, 172).

At the end of chapter 7, Winston is lying in bed next to Julia, and they begin discussing the consequences of their rebellious actions. Winston once again demonstrates a fatalistic personality by telling Julia,

"We may be together for another six months—a year—there’s no knowing. At the end we’re certain to be apart. Do you realize how utterly alone we shall be? When once they get hold of us there will be nothing, literally nothing, that either of us can do for the other" (Orwell, 209).

Overall, Winston Smith demonstrates his fatalistic personality by revealing his awareness that he will eventually be punished for his thoughts and crimes. Winston accepts the fact that the Party will eventually arrest, torture, and kill him, but he remains opposed to everything Big Brother represents.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Winston's fatalism is an aspect of his realism: he knows that eventually the state will catch up with him and punish him (probably kill him) for his various thought crimes. From the moment he starts his journal, he knows it is all over. His "crimes," such as having an affair with Julia, simply progress from there.

It shows the power of the state that Winston is so determinedly fatalistic. He thinks about "when" he is caught, not "if" he is caught. The Party has completely convinced him that it is all-powerful and that nobody escapes its all-seeing, all-knowing grasp. While he would like to believe he and Julia could continue to go on as they have, he has been indoctrinated to believe this is impossible.

What is interesting is not that he is fatalistic but that he actually underestimates the reach of the state and its all-encompassing presence. He knows his capture and death are inevitable, but he doesn't realize, for example, that Mr. Charrington works for the Thought Police or that the government has even planted microphones out in nature where he and Julia first have their rendezvous.

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jtantalo eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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From the beginning of the novel, Winston is aware that his thoughts will ultimately bring about his destruction. When he writes "Down With Big Brother" in his diary he foreshadows his ultimate demise by the thoughtpolice who will get him for his thoughtcrime against Big Brother. He knows his fate but is driven by his desire to know and experience the truth, beauty and love that once existed. Throughout the novel we see Winston always on guard, always thinking the worst, as when he thinks Julia is a spy. He is so on guard with everyone that he misses the one who will ulimately bring about his downfall - O'Brian.

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