What Is The Chestnut Tree Cafe

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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1. At the end of the novel, Winston and Julia meet again after their conversions to the Party. Julia gives him a quick glance, but it is full of hatred and contempt, and she tells Winston that she betrayed him. Winston replies that he, too, has betrayed her. They agree that after a while they began to think only of themselves. As Julia walks away, Winston exerts no effort to detain her. Instead, he thinks only of the cafe where he can drink because "From fifteen to closing time he [Winston] was a fixture in the Chestnut Tree." This restaurant is named after a song by Glenn Miller, a band leader of the 1940s, whose lyrics claim that two people will meet again under the chestnut tree:

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree
I loved him and he loved me
There I used to sit up on his knee
'Neath the spreading chestnut tree.

Now the lyrics are altered to "Under the spreading chestnut tree/ I sold you and you sold me." The word love has been changed to sold.

2. Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford are from Part I, Chapter 7. They sit at a table where Winston has been at the Chestnut Tree Cafe at the "lonely hour of fifteen," when a particular jeering note is sounded and a voice on the telescreen sings,

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.

Winston notices that the three men do not move, but Rutherford's eyes are filled with tears, and the noses of Aaronson and Rutherford are broken. Shortly after this, the three men are arrested, and at their second trial they confess to having committed all their former crimes of insurrection. Rutherford was a famous cartoonist whose satirical work once helped to inflame people's opinions before and during the Revolution. But, more recently, they were "an endless, hopeless, effort to get back into the past" where people could learn history.

The changes in the verse in the words "loved" to "sold" are significant as Winston sells out Julia just as Rutherford, Aaronson, and Jones have done previously to each other. Another change, from the word "lie" meaning to tell falsehoods, alludes to Winston's once having held evidence to prove the confessions of the three men mentioned were lies. Now, the confessions of Julia and Winston are additional lies. 

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