How many people personally known to Winston had disappeared at one time or another?
Winston thinks about people disappearing without a trace and ruminates that
Perhaps thirty people personally known to Winston, not counting his parents, had disappeared at one time or another.
Later in the text, Syme, the language specialist, will disappear without a trace.
One of the most unsettling parts of life in under the Party is the way a person can simply vanish one day and be treated as if her or she never existed. The threat of being disappeared is an important way the state is able to terrorize people and keep them in line. As Winston notes early in the novel, in a country without laws, any minor transgression can become a crime. People's fear of being scrubbed from history helps make them very fearful of doing anything that could be considered unorthodox. In a darkly comic moment, even the idiotic Parsons end up in prison with Winston, having been denounced by his daughter.
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