1984 Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

George Orwell

Part 2, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

On his way to the bathroom at work, Winston sees the girl with dark hair coming toward him, her arm in a sling. He thinks she was probably injured by one of the machines used to produce novels in the Fiction Department. Suddenly the girl stumbles and falls, cries out in pain, then looks at Winston with a frightened expression. Feeling empathy for the girl in spite of the fact that he regards her as a mortal enemy, Winston helps her to her feet. As he does so, the girl slips a note into his hand. After she walks away, Winston struggles to keep his face expressionless in front of the telescreen. At his desk he forces himself to wait to open the note, wondering if it is a threat from the Thought Police or a message from the Brotherhood, an underground organization rumored to oppose the Party. When he finally does open it, Winston is stunned to read the words “I love you” before he throws the note down the memory hole.

Winston is unable to concentrate for the rest of the day and longs to be alone, but he dutifully attends the Community Center that evening. With his will to live rekindled by the note, he is no longer willing to take unnecessary risks. Talking to the girl without raising suspicion, however, poses a problem; Winston decides the safest place to approach her would be in the canteen. He is unable to talk to her for a week, including three days when he doesn’t see her at all. He wonders if she has been transferred, if she is dead, or, worst of all, if she has changed her mind about him. Finally she reappears in the canteen, but a coworker calls Winston over to sit with him before he can approach the girl’s table. The next day, however, he succeeds in sitting down across from her. Speaking in low voices without looking at one another, Winston and the girl arrange a meeting.

Later that evening, Winston arrives early at their chosen meeting place, Victory Square. He is seized by fear that the girl won’t show up, but then he sees her standing at the base of a monument to Big Brother. He waits for more people to gather so that he can approach her less obviously, but suddenly everyone in the square runs to the street to watch a convoy of Eurasian prisoners of war. Winston and the girl join the crowd and stand beside each other, pressed together, staring straight ahead. As they watch the trucks full of prisoners pass, the girl gives Winston directions to a spot in the country where he is to meet her that Sunday. Just before they part, the girl squeezes Winston’s hand. The two of them hold hands for only about ten seconds, but it seems like a long time to Winston, who feels he learns the girl’s hand’s every detail.