In Part I Winston is at a crossroads in his life as he feels great discontent with his existence. In order to give expression to his negative thoughts, Winston purchases a diary in which he secretly writes. In a way, Winston feels he can voice his thoughts to O'Brien, a member of the Inner Party, by recording them in his secret diary. He also knows that the Party seeks to control every aspect of the truth, Winston is suspicious of O'Brien and others when he attends the Two-Minute Hate Session. When he first sees the "dark-haired girl" Winston thinks violent sexual thoughts about her, and distrusts her, noticing that she wears an "odious scarlet belt, the aggressive symbol of chastity."
In Book II, Chapter 1, one day Winston sees this dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department; when she falls on the floor, Winston helps her up and she slips, and, with a look of fear in her eyes, she slips him a note. This act of Julia completely unnerves Winston because she wears the chastity belt, and because she has only given him "a sidelong glance" when he has seen her a second time and then looked quickly away, leading Winston to worry that she is following him.
After he switches the note to a safer place with other papers, Winston surreptitiously reads the message: "I love you." Again he reads it, to be certain of what was there. For the remainder of the morning, Winson finds it difficult to work. "He felt as though a fire were burning in his belly," and he is tormented at lunch by this message. It is not until he is in the privacy of his home that Winston is most affected by the message on Julia's note:
*At the sight of the words I love you the desire to stay alive welled up in him, and the taking of minor risks suddenly seemed stupid.
In the dark Winston gathered his thoughts at this new, meaningful turn in his life.