Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary

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Winston dreams about his mother and younger sister, both of whom disappeared when he was ten or eleven. In the dream, he sees them sinking deep down below him and understands that they are willingly sacrificing their lives for his. Winston reflects that the tragedy and sacrifice of his mother’s death is something that wouldn’t be possible today, when privacy, family, friendship, love, and complex emotions have been subordinated to fear, hatred, and pain. The dream then shows Winston a sunlit field he often visits in his dreams and thinks of as the Golden Country. Walking toward him across the field is the girl with dark hair, who tears off her clothes and throws them aside. Instead of feeling desire for the girl, Winston feels admiration for that gesture, which seems to him to have the power to destroy the Party’s whole ideology and to belong, like tragedy, to the “ancient time.”

Winston is awakened by the blast from the telescreen that acts as an alarm for every office worker. As he goes through the Physical Jerks, the mandatory morning exercise routine, he reflects on his childhood. Winston dimly remembers a time of relative peace when Airstrip One was called England. He recalls hiding with his family in a Tube station from an unexpected air raid around the time an atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Colchester. Since then the war has been continuous, and though Winston remembers that only four years ago Oceania was at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia, the Party claims that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia. In this altering of the past, the Party is aided by “reality control,” in Newspeak called doublethink, a mental process by which a Party member can accept a lie as truth and then forget that truth was ever a lie. Winston finds the Party’s ability to alter or even destroy the past terrifying. He thinks he remembers first hearing of Big Brother and Ingsoc—English Socialism in Oldspeak—in the 1960s, but he can’t be sure. He does know that the Party’s claim to have invented airplanes is a lie, and he remembers one occasion when he discovered incontrovertible proof that the Party had falsified a historical fact. Before he can turn his thoughts to this memory, however, the voice of the exercise instructress on the telescreen screams his name and encourages him to try harder to touch his toes, causing Winston to break out in a nervous sweat because his facial expression may have given away his feelings in front of the screen.

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