What Happens To Julia In 1984

In 1984, what happens to Julia? Are there any visible signs of her torture?

In 1984, Julia is tortured and brainwashed. By the end of the book, she is a shadow of her former self, with a facial scar that indicates some kind of physical abuse. Her change in personality would also appear to suggest that she's been brainwashed.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

We only see Julia through Winston's eyes, so what happens to her in many ways remains mysterious. We know she approaches Winston for an affair, they fall in love, and that both promise not to betray the other when they are arrested. We don't know why Julia loves Winston or what her thoughts are, except as she expresses them in dialogue with him. Because Julia is often a sex object to Winston, we tend, like him, to see her first in terms of her youth and beauty. Because he is sexist in his understanding of women, he presents her as "nature," practical, free-spirited, and enjoying the physical without much analysis or contemplation, while he is "civilization," the intellectualizer. He is surprised when she shows insights, suggesting there is more going on with her than he imagines.

So when Julia and Winston are separated, we simply don't know what happens to her. She could be two prison cells over from Winston, but because he never sees her, we don't either.

After he is released from prison, Winston meets her on the streets. She is thick around the waist, has a scar on her face, and the spark that animated her has been extinguished. To Winston she seems like a corpse, already dead. She says she was faced with her worst fear in prison and betrayed him. Because he doesn't ask, we learn no more. She no longer is in love with him and doesn't want to be around him any more than he wants to be around her. They part quickly.

Julia loses the beauty, youth, and vitality that allowed her access to illicit privileges through her sexuality. Like Winston, she is a broken person.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Similar to Winston, Julia is tortured and brainwashed into a completely orthodox Party member who is dedicated to Big Brother and has no desire to rekindle her former romance. After Winston's time in the Ministry of Love, where he was subjected to unspeakable torture and programmed to love Big Brother, he is released back into society and recalls randomly meeting Julia in a park on a "vilely cold" day in March. When Winston sees Julia, he can instantly tell that she has changed in some "ill-defined way," and she initially attempts to avoid him.

Eventually, Julia slows down and allows Winston to put his arm around her waist. Winston then notices that Julia's face is much "sallower," and there is a "long scar ... across her forehead and temple," which suggests that she had brain surgery to alter her personality. Her waist has also "grown thicker" and stiffer than before, and the texture of her skin is no longer soft and natural. In addition to her changed appearance, Julia also looks at Winston with "contempt and dislike" and admits that she betrayed him in the Ministry of Love.

Julia was undoubtedly tortured and brainwashed inside the Ministry of Love, where she encountered her greatest fear and submitted her soul to Big Brother. Julia also may have had brain surgery to alter her personality and quell her rebellious thoughts. Following her terrifying experience in Room 101, Julia loses her spontaneous, attractive personality and transforms into a dull, mindless Party member like Winston.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Winston meets up with Julia again on a bitterly cold March day, he notices that his former lover looks different. It's patently obvious that her physical appearance has changed, with a noticeable thickening around her waist and a general stiffening of her body.

Crucially, Winston also notices that Julia has a "long scar ... across her forehead and temple." Though it's never actually spelled out, it's reasonable to infer that Julia, like Winston, has been the victim of torture. One shouldn't be the least bit surprised by this, as this is the normal fate meted out to those deemed a threat to the state.

During their meeting on that grim March day, both Winston and Julia acknowledge that they have betrayed each other. While he was being brutally tortured, Winston screamed out that he wanted Julia to be tortured and not him. Julia did the same thing to Winston in order to avoid an unspecified horrible threat made against her.

In any case, Julia is now a completely different person. This would appear to suggest that Julia has been brainwashed. Brainwashing is an important technique for the state to gain absolute obedience. It's not enough for the authorities to torture people into submission; they have to brainwash them into loving Big Brother.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

We see Julia at the very end of the book, and can get a picture of her physical appearance, and she mentions a couple things from which we can infer what happened to her.  We don't know exactly, in detail, but we can get the general gist.  When Winston meets her, the novel writes that

"her face was sallower, and there was a long scar, partly hidden by the hair, across her forehead and temple...her waist had grown thicker, and, in a surprising way, had stiffened...her body felt like [a corpse]."

So, instead of being young, flexible, friendly and full of life, she is pale and stiff, like all of the life had been sapped out of her.  She has a scar, so, her torture involved some sort of awful facial cutting or damage.

To get an idea of what they did to her, we do know that they did something to make her betray Winston, just like Winston did her.  It's the first thing she says to him.  She said that they threatened something so horrible that in order to escape it, she told them to do it to Winston instead.  That is almost exactly what happened with Winston.  Other changes are startling--she is filled with distaste for Winston, doesn't really want him to follow her, and after a bit when he first sees her, tries to get away, but then gives up.  She used to seek out their meetings, and spend her life evading the Party to meet him.  Now, she distastes anything having to do with her former life, and is very passive and gives up easily.  They have taken her spirit and zest, and left a hardened shell behind.

So, her torture ended in some that was very similar to Winston's, was physically brutal, and completely changed her personality and nature, breaking her will and taking the life out of her.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial