What are the political prisoners afraid of in 1984?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are at least a couple different ways to answer this question.  (I assume you are asking about what we are told in Part 3, Chapter 1.)

The simplest answer is to say that the political prisoners are afraid of Room 101.  It is clear that something completely terrible happens in that room.  We see many examples in this chapter of how afraid the political prisoners are of that room.

At a deeper level, though, this question could be asking why the political prisoners are afraid while the common criminals are not.  I would argue that this is because the political prisoners are more of a threat to the Party and therefore they are treated much more harshly.  The political prisoners were members of the Party (and are also referred to as "Party prisoners").  They have committed the more serious (to the Party) offense of thoughtcrime.  The Party sees the politicals as "adults" who have openly rebelled against the Party.  By contrast, the common criminals are more like children who simply don't know any better.  Because of this, the political prisoners are a bigger threat and must be punished more harshly.  This is why the political prisoners are afraid.