The central conflict of the novel 1984 is Man vs. Society, which is represented by Winston Smith vs. the Party (Big Brother). In the dystopian nation of Oceania, individualism is virtually extinct, and the Party controls every aspect of society. The citizens are under constant surveillance and suffer under the oppressive regime. Throughout the novel, Winston struggles to maintain his individuality under the watchful eye of Big Brother and even attempts to undermine the Party by joining the Brotherhood. Winston is completely opposed to every aspect of society and takes enormous risks, which eventually result in his arrest and torture.
One minor conflict that is presented throughout the novel and highlights the major conflict of Man vs. Society is Man vs. Self. In the novel, Winston struggles with the decision to remain alive in the dystopian nation or rebel against the Party. Winston fears being tortured and is fully aware that he is risking his life. However, Winston is inherently motivated to oppose Big Brother regardless of the consequences. Winston's desire to remain human and exercise independence conflicts with his will to survive. The conflict between Truth vs. Propaganda also emphasizes the central conflict of the novel. Mutability of the past and the overwhelming state-sanctioned propaganda disguise the truth, which makes Winston continually question his approach to rebelling against Big Brother. Winston desperately searches for concrete evidence to prove that life was better before the Revolution but cannot attain accurate historical records. Overall, the central conflict of the novel is Man vs. Society and the minor conflicts highlight Winston's struggles against Big Brother to warn readers about the dangers of totalitarianism.