What dual purpose does Big Brother symbolize in the novel, is he real or just a symbol?

Expert Answers info

alexb2 eNotes educator | Certified Educator


bookB.A. from Georgetown University

calendarEducator since 2004

write726 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

Big Brother does not truly exist. The average citizen of Oceania does not know this, but we do because of the scene where Winston questions O'Brien about Big Brother, and O'Brien dodges the questions.

The dual purposes of Big Brother are to inspire both fear and love. Big Brother becomes a family member in a world where families are torn apart and considered less important then the state. He also inspires fear as he is supposed to be all-seeing, all-knowing, and ruthless when dealing with dissent.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

desoray08 | Student
Throughout London, Winston sees posters showing a man gazing down over the words “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” everywhere he goes. Big Brother is the face of the Party. The citizens are told that he is the leader of the nation and the head of the Party, but Winston can never determine whether or not he actually exists. In any case, the face of Big Brother symbolizes the Party in its public manifestation; he is a reassurance to most people (the warmth of his name suggests his ability to protect), but he is also an open threat (one cannot escape his gaze). Big Brother also symbolizes the vagueness with which the higher ranks of the Party present themselves—it is impossible to know who really rules Oceania, what life is like for the rulers, or why they act as they do. Winston thinks he remembers that Big Brother emerged around 1960, but the Party's official records date Big Brother's existence back to 1930, before Winston was even born.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial