Who are the Parsons and what do they represent in the novel "1984" by George Orwell?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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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clane's profile pic

clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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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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