1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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What are the most compelling and striking moments of the novel 1984?

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Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are so many worthy choices for this response. Here are some of my own top contenders:

The moment when Winston and Julia are confronted.

Although as you're reading through the sections where Winston and Julia grow closer and you know it really can't last (Big Brother knows everything!), it's hard not to keep rooting for the couple to make it. You kind of hope that they will somehow manage to fly under the ever-present radar and stage a huge overthrow of the Party. So when an "iron voice" tells them, "You are the dead," it's easy to be jolted back into reality right along with Winston and Julia. The dream is over, and you know they will pay dearly for their actions against Big Brother.

The moment when Winston betrays Julia.

There is heavy foreshadowing in the final section when Winston is asked about a single "degradation" that has not happened to him and he responds, "I have not betrayed Julia." So a few chapters later, O'Brien brings out "the worst thing in the world" for Winston personally: the rats. As O'Brien approaches Winston with the rat mask, Winston does the unthinkable:

Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones! Not me! Julia! Not me!

This is what they have wanted all along: Winston's total and complete submission. The last thing he has clung to is now finished. He is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to save himself.

The final sentence.

He loved Big Brother.

After all he has learned, after all he has fought, after all he has sacrificed, Winston loves Big Brother. Really? Has his submission been so total? Has he reached the point of no return? Has Big Brother consumed his soul through the torture? Is it really possible that he has buried all the rest into his subconscious? It certainly seems that way. If so, what does that mean for our society today? Are we as susceptible to blindly accepting non-truths? The final sentence leaves us so much to consider.

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