Identify and explain one important theme in three passages from part 2 chapter 10 to part 3 chapter 1 in 1984 by George Orwell.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The power of Big Brother can be seen in specific passages from both chapters.  It is at this point where one can see how the resistance shown in the affair of Winston and Julia is a fundamental threat to Big Brother.  In this, the presence of Big Brother asserts itself and becomes undeniable.  The theme of Big Brother's power is seen the moment the two lovers are discovered:

‘We are the dead,’ he said.

‘We are the dead,’ echoed Julia dutifully.

‘You are the dead,’ said an iron voice behind them.

‘You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.

‘It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.

‘It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ‘Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’

It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late — no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall.

In the transition from the two lovers speaking in almost hushed tone to one another to the absolutist and dictatorial voice from behind the wall, the passage illustrates the power of Big Brother to supplant one's own personal affections and desires, subjugating them to the will of the external authority.

The continuing power of Big Brother is seen when Winston is rendered into a state of physical and moral paralysis as the police force enters the apartment:

One of the men had smashed his fist into Julia’s solar plexus, doubling her up like a pocket ruler. She was thrashing about on the floor, fighting for breath. Winston dared not turn his head even by a millimetre, but sometimes her livid, gasping face came within the angle of his vision. Even in his terror it was as though he could feel the pain in his own body, the deadly pain which nevertheless was less urgent than the struggle to get back her breath.

Even Julia being beaten cannot move Winston to action.  He is paralyzed with both the physical and emotional realities of being trapped in the power of Big Brother.  It is this condition that causes him to not stand up or even try to defend himself or the woman with whom he shared so much.

Finally, the power of Big Brother can be seen in the cell where Winston is taken to open the last part of the work.  The condition of Big Brother's power is meant to ensure that the individual will is no match for it:

‘Smith!’ yelled a voice from the telescreen. ‘6079 Smith W.! Hands out of pockets in the cells!’

He sat still again, his hands crossed on his knee. Before being brought here he had been taken to another place which must have been an ordinary prison or a temporary lock-up used by the patrols. He did not know how long he had been there; some hours at any rate; with no clocks and no daylight it was hard to gauge the time. It was a noisy, evil-smelling place. They had put him into a cell similar to the one he was now in, but filthily dirty and at all times crowded by ten or fifteen people.

Being reprimanded for putting his hands in his pockets, rendered silent from activating voice, and breaking his will in collectivizing him with others devoid of explanation or reason are all examples from this passage where Big Brother's power is undeniable.  It is able to reach inside the realm of the individual and destroy any semblance of resistance.  These passages help to illuminate this thematic condition that is so integral to the work's understanding.