1984 Questions and Answers
by George Orwell

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Why, in 1984, does O'Brien call Winston the "last man"?

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Nona Stiltner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In George Orwell's 1984, O'Brien calls Winston "the last man" in reference to Winston's rebellious spirit, which O'Brien feels must be subdued. In calling Winston the last man, O'Brien is pointing out that he is an isolated individual in the sea of people who have accepted the Party or given up trying to fight. Winston is a rare person in that he actually sees himself as an individual rather than as an unthinking part of the Party. O'Brien encourages Winston to accept the futility of resisting the Party. Winston believes that the spirit of humanity will eventually overthrow the Party, as masses of people will one day fight back. O'Brien's response is that Winston, by being the last man, is alone in this fight for humanity.

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In a conversation between O'Brien and Winston in part 3, chapter 3 of the novel, Winston tells O'Brien that he considers himself a man and believes that the spirit of man will eventually defeat the Party. O'Brien responds to Winston's comment by saying, "If you are a man,...

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