1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Provide a list of the motifs in part 1, chapters 4 and 5.

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The principal motifs that appear in Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5 of Nineteen Eighty-Four are:

1. The erasure of history. Winston has to rewrite official documents, newspaper articles and Big Brother's speeches, to give the impression of infallibility by making them predict what actually happened. This is a constantly recurring motif which is picked up most obviously when Oceania is suddenly at war with Eastasia and four years of history have to be erased.

2. Secrecy. Workers in the Ministry of Truth have little idea what other workers are doing. They even have to guess at how to complete their own assignments, since those who are to be edited out of history are never publicly denounced.

3. Newspeak. Syme, who is working on the Newspeak dictionary, talks about how it will make political unorthodoxy impossible by narrowing the range of language to the point where it is impossible to express an unorthodox thought.

4. Razor-blades. Both Syme and Parsons ask Winston for razor-blades, which symbolize all the unavailable consumer goods and basic supplies amidst the constant boasts of prosperity put out by the Ministry. Other shortages, such as tobacco, are also mentioned.

5. Dirt and Decay. This is a recurring motif throughout the novel. Everything around Winston is in poor condition, battered, coarse-textured, greasy, foul-smelling.

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