Winston commits a thought crime by writing what statement in his diary?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the opening chapter of the novel, Winston Smith returns home from work at the Ministry of Truth for a lunch break. As he sits down in the corner of his apartment, where the telescreen mounted on his wall cannot see him, he drinks some Victory Gin and begins to reflect on the events that transpired earlier that day during the Two Minutes Hate ritual at the Records Department. As Winston thinks about being followed by an attractive dark-haired woman, he feels a kindred spirit with O'Brien, who he believes is a fellow political dissident. As Winston thinks about the look in O'Brien's eye, he unconsciously commits thoughtcrime by writing "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER..." (Orwell, 23). In the dystopian nation of Oceania, citizens can be arrested for thoughtcrime, which is essentially when a person thinks of anything that the government deems dangerous, independent, harmful, or threatening. Winston loathes Big Brother and is completely opposed to the Party, which prompts him to commit thoughtcrime by writing the anti-government statement in his secret diary.

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Well, the scary thing about the world of 1984 is that the phrase was a Thoughtcrime whether he wrote it down or not; it was a Thoughtcrime if he even just thought it. What's more, lots of what he wrote in the diary would probably have been considered a Thoughtcrime. That said, the big Thoughtcrime was writing "Down With Big Brother," over and over. Go Winston!

Greg

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