1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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What is the importance of the rhyme "Oranges and Lemons" in 1984?

The rhyme "Oranges and Lemons" in 1984 is important because it demonstrates the separation of the people of Oceania from the past and foreshadows Winston's eventual fate.

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“Oranges and Lemons” connects Winston with Charrington, O’Brien, and, rather unexpectedly, Julia, each of whom supplies him with some of the words. It seems appropriate that O’Brien should complete the eighteenth-century rhyme, as he reminds Winston of an eighteenth-century nobleman, with his charm of manner and incongruously civilized appearance.

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, another book-burning dystopia, a group of dissidents manage to assemble a human library, having memorized some of the great books of the Western canon. The Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four has effectively censored great works of literature by translating them into Newspeak versions, but it seems to have wiped out traditional popular verse, such as nursery rhymes, so thoroughly that several people are needed (at least two of them, ironically, undercover agents of the Party) to piece together a very brief rhyme. It is a further irony that Winston spends so much time trying to recover these fragments of the past...

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