Who are the Parsons, and what do they represent in 1984?

In 1984, the Parsons are Winston's neighbors in Victory Towers. They represent the average family in Oceania. The Parsons' children, who inform on their father to the authorities, represent the degree to which family loyalties have been replaced by loyalty to the Party.

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The Parsons are a family of four—a mother, a father, a son, and a daughter—who live in an apartment near Winston's. Mr. Parsons also works with Winston at the Ministry of Truth. Winston describes him as

a fattish but active man of paralysing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms—one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended.

Mrs. Parsons is depicted as a worn-out mother who seems as if she has dust in the creases of her face. She is afraid of her children. The children, like their father, are completely brainwashed the Party. They are aggressive and rule the roost at home because the parents are afraid of being denounced by them to the Thought Police.

The children are based on the reality of life in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, where schoolchildren were encouraged to spy and report if their parents were critical of the regime, which led to parents being arrested and upset traditional notions of family life and family privacy.

Tom Parsons ends up in the Ministry of Love alongside Winston because his daughter turned him into the Thought Police for allegedly saying "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep. As Parsons describes to Winston:

She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?

The Parsons represent a typical family of Party loyalists. They accept the Party's lies unthinkingly and act as model citizens. They represent how the idea of family has been perverted by the Regime, while Tom represents the way no amount of loyalty or stupidity can save a person from being turned on by the government, underlining that the Party rules through terror.

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The Parsons can be seen as a fairly typical example of a family in the totalitarian state of Oceania. Mr. and Mrs. Parsons are dull, uncomplaining members of society leading lives of crushing boredom. This suits the Party just fine. If Winston Smith's neighbors in Victory Towers lead such unexciting lives, then it means that they're not getting up to mischief, not planning on engaging in subversive activities.

But in Oceania, family life, like everything else, isn't normal, and so there's a lot more to the Parsons than meets the eye. Their children are fanatical members of the Junior Spies group, a Party organization of young people designed to sniff out the merest hint of subversion. In effect, the Parsons kids belong to Big Brother. He is their father rather than Mr. Parsons, and it's to him that they owe their loyalty.

Out of love for Big Brother, the kids inform on their dad to the authorities, claiming that he's guilty of thoughtcrime. Amazingly, Mr. Parsons himself is actually proud of his kids for turning him in, as it shows their absolute loyalty to the regime.

This whole sorry saga is an indication of just how much family life has been distorted by the Party. Children no longer belong to their parents; they belong to Big Brother. Loyalty to one's family has been replaced by loyalty to the Party.

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The Parsons represent what is supposed to be the middle class since they are in an apartment. In his depiction of them, George Orwell demonstrates how the basic unit of society, the family, has had its structure destroyed and traditional values subverted. At the time of Orwell's writing of 1984 which was 1948, shortly after World War II, traditional families were intact with little divorce; children were respectful to their parents, and the middle class was growing and prospering. Therefore, this futuristic portrayal of the "average" family is completely different as it presents a family in chaos.

When Mrs. Parsons asks Winston to help her with her drain, Winston is reluctant to enter her apartment, or flat, as the British call it.

Everything had a battered, trampled-on look, as though the place had just been visited by some large violent animal. ...hockey sticks, boxing gloves, a burst football, a pair of swety shorts turned inside out--lay all over the foor, and on the table a litter of dirty dishes and dog-eared exercise books. On the walls were scarlet banners of the Youth League and the spies, and a full-sized poster of Big Brother.

After Winston is finished unclogging the drain, a nine-year old orders him to put his hands in the air. He plays at the horrific things actually done to the citizens, calling Winston a thought-criminal and a spy. Winston is threatened with being vaporized or sent to the salt mines. In the boy's eyes, there is "a calculating ferocity";Winston is glad he does not hold a real pistol because as he leaves, he is struck in the head with something. Turning, he sees Mrs. Parson holding the boy with a look of "helpless fright." As he walks farther, Winston reflects upon how nearly "all children are horrible" and they love the Party and all that is connected with it.

Later, Winston learns that Parsons has been turned in by one of his sons because of thought crime. The newspapers picture children who "heroes" for having turned in their parent for thought crime, or some compromising remark.

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The Parsons live in Victory Towers and they are Winston's neighbors. The Parsons represent the typical family in the Party, they are the working class, proletariats.

Tom Parsons has a wife and two children and his children represent the work of the Party. Parson's children have loyalty only to Big Brother and prove this fact by turning their own father over to the thought police for apparently talking in his sleep. Even Winston notices, when he is helping Mrs. Parson unclog a drain, that she is terrified of her children and what they are becoming capable of doing.

When Winston sees Tom in the Ministry of Love he is aghast. Winston thought that Tom would be the last person he would see there for committing a thoughtcrime, since that was what everyone's crime was. Tom is not at all upset that his own child, his daughter, turned him in. On the contrary, he is proud that she is such a good Party member and has such a love for Big Brother.

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