What does the ending of 1984 by George Orwell teach us about life? Include specific/ detailed references to the text for support.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One lesson that emerges from the end of Orwell's book is that resistance must be embraced.  There is something sad about Winston being reduced to the condition of an alienated individual whose only solace is drink.  What was once there as an intelligent being who engaged in political resistance for individual rights and autonomy is no longer.  Orwell might be seeking to instruct us about how the need to engage in resistance, regardless of the struggle and cost is better than the alternative.  Once Winston was captured and "they got inside him," he, like Julia, changed forever.  This fate is something to be avoided, becoming one of the lessons at the end of the novel.

Along these lines, the ending teaches the individual that any small action can be seen as resistance to an external reality that wishes to oppress the individual through conformity.  Winston's "false memory" of his childhood is an example of resistance.  This resistance is embodied in the idea that there is something that cannot be controlled by anyone else other than himself. Individuals are shown to have the power of resistance.  Mere lovemaking between Winston and Julia was seen as resistance:  "Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act." It is for this reason that their betrayal of one another is an end to resistance.  For Orwell, the ending reminds the reader that the individual does have power.  Their power rests in their ability to remain distinct from an entity that wishes to control and oppress. Individuals do have resistance within them in the simple acts of love, memory, and identity.  In a world of shrinking uniqueness and increasing conformity and control, Orwell is saying that we, as individuals, have more power than we think.  This resistance starts in being true to ourselves and remaining distinct from a setting that predicates its existence on a lack of thought and reflection. Individuals do have power and it is upon them to activate it, if nothing else, to repel the external forces that wish to silence our voices.

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