How does Winston Smith try to take control of his confusion?  Explain how his actions are an example of the literary technique, indirect characterization.

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goreadabook | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Indirect characterization is a literary technique that helps the reader make judgments about a character's quality, personality, and values directly based on their actions, thoughts, feelings, and dialogue.  Rather than telling the reader exactly what the character is like, the author lets the reader make that judgment for themselves based on what the character says, does, and feels.  George Orwell implements this technique frequently in 1984.

One of Winston's primary struggles throughout the novel is with his perception of the ineffectiveness and deceptiveness of The Party.  He acknowledges INGSOC's inconsistencies and deceptions, but his indoctrinated fear and "loyalty" to The Party initially keeps him from inquiring further into his uncertainties.  He is confused by his ill feelings towards The Party, especially because he has been carefully conditioned to believe everything they say, even if he knows it to be untrue (Doublethink).  Winston attempts to take control of this confusion in a number of ways.

First of all, the novel begins with Winston writing the words "Down with Big Brother" multiple times in his journal.  Even though he knew that purchasing the journal and writing down his concerns were acts of Thoughtcrime and punishable by vaporization, he still did so in order to reconstruct memories that were distorted by the Party's brainwashing.  This audacious act reveals Winston's determination and emotional connection to his past.  This already makes him unique in comparison to many of the other characters, because he actually feels sentiment towards his past rather than apathy towards everything but the Party.

Winston also seeks out knowledge and relationships from other people in order to collect more information about life before Big Brother.  He speaks with the old man in the pub, purchases the paperweight and rents the room above the antique store, and engages in a scandalous and prohibited sexual relationship with Julia in order to explore his deeply supressed human nature.

Ultimately, Winston's attempts to take control of his confusion result in his destruction at the hands of the Party.  Regardless of his fate, his courage and curiousity allowed him to experience a small amount of joy in an otherwise sorrowful world.

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