Who is a person from Winston's past?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One particular person from Winston's past would be his mother.  This is poignantly shown at the end of the novel. It is seen at a point where Winston is a gutted shell of what he once was.  Memories enter in and out of his mind and reflect his past. The shared betrayal between he and Julia is one such memory.  Another one is the memory of his childhood in which Winston's mother plays a vital role.  She is a figure of his past.  She represents the force of tenderness and nurturing in a world devoid of emotional contact, as reflected in Winston's memory:

In the end his mother said, 'Now be good, and I'Il buy you a toy. A lovely toy -- you'll love it'; and then she had gone out in the rain, to a little general shop which was still sporadically open nearby, and came back with a cardboard box containing an outfit of Snakes and Ladders.

The intimate love of such a moment represents how Winston's mother is a person of his past.  She signifies a person who is pure and noble. This is a stark contrast of the people surrounding Winston in Oceania, and the end results of Big Brother's guidance. The promise and delivery of a "lovely toy" that a mother gives to her child is a memory of his past, something far removed from his present.

Winston's continued reverie of his childhood at a point where so much is devoid of meaning only tightens the reference to his mother as a character of his past.  Winston's further recollections of the memory help to bring him closer to his mother in his past, if only for an instant:

He could still remember the smell of the damp cardboard. It was a miserable outfit. The board was cracked and the tiny wooden dice were so ill-cut that they would hardly lie on their sides. Winston looked at the thing sulkily and without interest. But then his mother lit a piece of candle and they sat down on the floor to play. Soon he was wildly excited and shouting with laughter as the tiddly-winks climbed hopefully up the ladders and then came slithering down the snakes again, almost to the starting-point. They played eight games, winning four each. His tiny sister, too young to understand what the game was about, had sat propped up against a bolster, laughing because the others were laughing. For a whole afternoon they had all been happy together, as in his earlier childhood.

Winston's mother is a part of his past.  The "laughing because others were laughing," and the simplistic honesty of the moment is where Winston connects with his past.  He also connects with his mother as a part of this past.  This instant is where Winston's humanity is seen, despite all the attempts of The Party and Big Brother to remove it and control him.  While the memory concludes with Winston having "pushed the picture out of his mind," this moment remains in the reader's mind.  It is one in which Winston's mother becomes seen as a person of his past, a reminder of humanity's charm and redemption amidst a sea of repression and condemnation.

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