What does the picture of Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford mean? What does it prove? Why is it so important?
The story of these three men is found in Chapter 7.
In that chapter, Winston finds a picture of the three men from a newspaper. The picture seems to just be stuck in with some stuff he needs to look at for work.
The picture is important because it proves that the Party was lying about something. This would be a huge deal if people knew about it. These three men had been put on trial and forced to confess to various crimes. But this picture shows that their confession could not have been true. It shows that they were in New York on a day that they swore they were off in Eurasia plotting against Oceania.
It was a half-page torn out of The Times of about ten years earlier -- the top half of the page, so that it included the date -- and it contained a photograph of the delegates at some Party function in New York. Prominent in the middle of the group were Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford. There was no mistaking them, in any case their names were in the caption at the bottom. The point was that at both trials all three men had confessed that on that date they had been on Eurasian soil. They had flown from a secret airfield in Canada to a rendezvous somewhere in Siberia, and had conferred with members of the Eurasian General Staff, to whom they had betrayed important military secrets.
Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford are three men, who were arrested around 1965 before they publicly confessed to their crimes of colluding with Goldstein against the Party. After confessing, they were pardoned and reinstated to serve the Party. Winston recalls that the three individuals were later rearrested and confessed to a new series of crimes before being executed by the Party. Five years after their execution, Winston remembers unrolling a document, which was a ten-year-old page from The Times. The page was dated and contained a photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford attending a Party function in New York. What Winston found interesting was the fact that all three men had confessed to being on Eurasian soil on the day that picture was taken. Winston specifically remembered seeing the date of their confession, which meant that the confessions were lies. The photograph in The Times is significant because it is concrete evidence that proves that The Party is falsifying records, lying to the public, and unjustly punishing its citizens. In Oceania, possessing concrete evidence that reveals the Party's true nature is extremely rare and significant. Unfortunately, Winston fears the consequences of possessing such damning evidence and throws the photograph into the memory hole.