1984 Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis

George Orwell

Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis

June arrives. Winston has rented the room above Mr. Charrington’s shop, which he and Julia are now using as their meeting place. Winston originally formed the idea of renting the room while imagining how the glass paperweight would look in it. The paperweight now sits on the old-fashioned table there. Mr. Charrington is aware that Winston is conducting a love affair in the room and has promised to keep this information to himself. Winston is aware that he and Julia are committing the most obvious, flagrant crime it is possible for Party members to commit with their trysts in the rented room, but the temptation of having a private place to be together is too much for either of them to resist.

While he waits in the room for Julia, Winston watches through the window as a huge prole woman pegs diapers on a clothesline in the courtyard. She sings a popular song produced for the proles by the Ministry of Truth’s Music Department on a machine called a versifactor, and Winston thinks her singing is almost pleasant. He reflects on how difficult it was to arrange meetings with Julia before he rented the room: both of them have been working much more than usual in preparation for an event called Hate Week, and the last time they made plans to meet at the clearing in the woods, Julia canceled after getting her period early. This made Winston angry, as he had begun to feel that he needed and had a right to Julia, but in the next moment he was overcome by tenderness as she squeezed his hand. He wished they had a place where they could be alone and at ease, and the next day he thought of renting the room above the junk shop. Both he and Julia know how dangerous this is, and Winston thinks now of the torture they will inevitably face in the Ministry of Love.

Julia arrives with her tool bag full of real coffee, tea, and sugar she bought on the black market. She then makes Winston face away from her. As he watches the prole woman contentedly hanging laundry and singing again, he thinks how dangerously unorthodox it would seem for a Party member to spontaneously burst into song. When Julia tells him to turn around, he sees that she is wearing makeup—something Party women simply don’t do. Winston thinks she looks much prettier and more feminine this way. When he embraces her, he realizes she is also wearing perfume—the same perfume the prole prostitute had worn, but that doesn’t matter to him. Julia tells Winston that in their private room she will be not a Party comrade but a woman. Winston takes all of his clothes off in front of Julia for the first time, and the two make love. Lying in the old-fashioned bed together afterward, their peace is interrupted by the appearance of a rat. Julia throws a shoe at it and indifferently speaks of the huge brown rats that attack children in the poorer parts of London. Winston is completely horrified by the thought of rats and is reminded of a recurring nightmare he has in which something terrible waits for him on the other side of a wall of darkness. In the nightmare he always thinks he knows what that something is but is too afraid to admit it to himself.

Winston half-forgets this panic as Julia gets up, makes coffee, and looks around the room. Together they look at the paperweight, which Winston explains he likes because of its lack of usefulness and because it is like an unaltered piece of history. He tells her the print on the wall is of St. Clement’s Dane and is stunned when she knows part of the rhyme taught to him by Mr. Charrington. Julia says her grandfather taught it to her before he disappeared. While she takes off her makeup, Winston gazes into the paperweight, imagining the timeless world he has created inside this room with Julia is the coral embedded safely in the glass.

(The entire section is 685 words.)