1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

1984 book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Make a list of the examples of paradox, logic, and illogicality in chapters 6–8 of 1984.

Expert Answers info

Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write5,597 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

There are numerous places in chapters 6 through 8 where logical contradictions are exposed. In this section of the novel, Winston Smith is questioning many of the fundamental premises by which society is governed, although he knows it is dangerous to do so. As he wonders about whether and how social changed might be implemented, he is constantly confronted with the logical impossibility of such change ever occurring.

In chapter 6, he reviews the rules governing sexual relations. The Party, he understands, aims “to remove all pleasure from the sexual act.” One of the paradoxes of Party practice relates to the kinds of unions that are allowed between men and women. (Orwell discusses only heterosexual relationships.) All marriages had to be approved in advance by a Party committee; the logical contradiction is that even the appearance of sexual attraction between the two people means that the marriage will not be permitted: “though the principle was never stated ... permission was always refused.” That is, people are supposed to know the rules even though they are not written down anywhere. Winston does not know why the Party wants to kill “the sex instinct,” but he thinks of that goal as “natural.”

Chapter 7 deals with the topic of social change through rebellion. Winston raises what becomes a recurring theme of hope of a prole revolt. Here the paradox is that the necessity for change must go unacknowledged because of the total mental conditioning people undergo, which in turn effectively blocks people from formulating the idea of change. He states this logical contradiction: “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled, they can never become conscious.” He thinks about the ways the Party controls the proles so that they cannot formulate political ideas, and their “discontent ... could only focus on petty specific grievances.” Those who are at the bottom of the social order and would benefit most from its total transformation are those least capable of effecting, or even desiring, such a radical change.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial