What evidence shows that a character is having a conflict in 1984?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Conflict is a major theme in 1984 and we see it most prominently through the character of Winston. Orwell develops Winston's conflict through his dreams. In Part 1, Chapter 3, for example, Winston dreams about the deaths of his mother and his sister. He struggles to remember the details of how they died but this dream coincides with the beginnings of his rebellion against the party. When he dreams of his mother again, in Part 2, Chapter 7, we find a much more detailed version of events. He is able to remember his last meeting with his mother and realises that he "must have deliberately pushed out of his consciousness over many years." In other words, Winston's dreams develop and become more detailed as his feelings of rebellion intensify. The dream therefore represents the conflict between outward conformity and inner rebellion. 

Similarly, we see evidence of conflict in the character of Julia. On the outside, she represents complete conformity to the party: she is a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League, hands out party flyers and goes on community hikes. But, like Winston, she is driven by an internal need to rebel against the party. Julia's sexual behaviour provides the evidence of her conflict. In Part 2, Chapter 2, she tells Winston that she has had sex with a number of party members, "hundreds of times." Her body therefore betrays her true feelings about the party and, ultimately, leads to arrest and torture at the hands of the Thought Police. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Conflict in a story can usually be detected when a problem is identified that the character is directly connected to, for which there is yet a resolution. This is often what the story may center around. The character may struggle to solve or come to terms with the problem, and in doing so will usually transition to the story's conclusion.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If a character in a story or book is having a conflict, you can support this idea with quotes from the text that demonstrate an internal or external struggle. For example, if the author notes that the character doesn't answer a question someone in the story poses to him and looks at his feet, it could indicate that the character is not comfortable with the question because of something he did that was wrong.

Quotes that indicate fights/disagreement between characters, negative facial expressions on the character or people with whom she interacts, negative feelings on the part of the character about something that happened in the story, moral dilemmas, etc. can also indicate a conflict.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial