1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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What are some specific examples from George Orwell's 1984 that show Winston Smith is a hero?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Winston is heroic in daring to oppose the state. As Nafasi writes in Reading Lolita in Teheran, in a totalitarian state, the smallest of gestures, such as a woman allowing a few strands of hair to fall out from her veil, becomes an act of rebellion.

Winston's rebellion runs deep. He writes in a diary, although he knows it will lead either to his death or twenty five years at a hard labor camp. He has a forbidden affair with Julia and even rents a room above Mr. Charrington's shop so that the two can, every so often, live like an ordinary couple. He states to O'Brien that he is willing to take great risks to help overthrow the current government.

After his arrest, Winston is heroic in resisting the idea that two plus two equal five, even while being tortured, and he tries to hang on to his love for Julia as long as possible. If he cannot "win," he at least fights a good fight.

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Eleanora Howe eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Although he is fairly ordinary at heart, Winston Smith functions as the main hero in George Orwell's dystopian world. This fact might surprise some readers; after all, Winston succumbs to torture at the end of the novel and finishes the narrative as a devout follower of Big Brother. While his end might be tragic, Winston spends the vast majority of the novel exhibiting a quiet and inspiring heroism, so it would be mistaken to judge him solely on his miserable fate in the final pages of 1984. The clearest example of Winston's heroism occurs quite early in the novel: in the first chapter, he steals home to write his thoughts in a diary. This seemingly simple act is perhaps Winston's most heroic moment. Since Big Brother polices the minds of its citizens and punishes those who dare to think for themselves, the decision to record independent ideas in a journal is a rebellious act against the established order. As such, Winston's early decision to rebel by thinking (and writing) for himself is a clear example of his heroism.

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