What role does O'Brien play in Winston's life?

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O'Brien plays several roles in Winston's life: collaborator, mentor, torturer and hero. The nature of their relationship clearly changes when Winston understands that O'Brien is not a rebel against the Party, but a loyal member of it, who soon becomes his interrogator. However, it does not change as much as one might expect. O'Brien has revealed himself to be Winston's ideological enemy rather than his ally. However, even as an enemy, O'Brien remains Winston's hero. When Winston says that he has not betrayed Julia and O'Brien agrees that this is "perfectly true," Winston feels a sentiment nothing short of hero worship for his torturer:

The peculiar reverence for O'Brien, which nothing seemed able to destroy, flooded Winston's heart again. How intelligent, he thought, how intelligent! Never did O'Brien fail to understand what was said to him.

Winston first notices O'Brien as someone who seems curiously civilized and charming and, as such, at odds with their surroundings and with the Party. This sense that O'Brien is special and distinct from the ordinary brutality of the Party never leaves Winston, even when O'Brien is inflicting terrible pain on him. He realizes that O'Brien is his intellectual superior and even that O'Briens mind "contains" his mind, so that he will never be able to raise an objection to which O'Brien has no answer. This admiration for O'Brien paves the way for Winston's eventual acceptance and love of Big Brother.

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