1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

1984 book cover
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How is the novel 1984 structured? Is the structure related to the content?

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The structure of 1984 is quite deliberate, setting the stage for the tone and storyline of this dystopian novel by George Orwell. 1984 is written in three parts, each section showing the path that Winson's relationship with Big Brother and the world around him takes.

In section 1, we learn about what the world is like in this future year: 1984. We know that Big Brother is in charge and that Winston had a different life before they ruled. He had a family and a wife, but now we know he is alone in a society where he has no freedom and everything he does is watched. Even the act of writing in his diary is one of defiance, something that could get him killed. Although he is aware of the risks involved in writing down his thoughts, or even having thoughts, it is worth it to him to take that risk.

In the second part of the book, Winston's coworker Julia sends him a note which says that she loves him. Winston has been wary of Julia, but he is also filled with desire. They begin a secret affair which carries the risk of death if they are caught. In this portion of the book we can compare Winston's character and views on the Party to Julia's. Each of them represents a different way of handling oppression: Winston wants to be a part of taking down the Party and reclaiming his freedom and life while Julia is content to live under its rules on the outside as long as she can retain some of her personal freedoms.

In the third portion of the book, Winston and Julia are caught by the Party (due to both of them trusting a person who turned out to be a secret member). The first two sections of the book are hopeful, and we're rooting for Winston to find a way to overthrow the Party. This section of the book is hopeless; they've been captured. They're tortured. They learn that those they've trusted—including each other—have turned out to be disloyal. It is when Winston betrays Julia that we really see that all is lost: that their will to live freely is futile. At the end of the book, we realize that Winston is as brainwashed as everyone else. There is no hope for society.

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