Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary

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At the Ministry of Truth, Syme disappears and Winston recognizes that his acquaintance has been vaporized. Meanwhile, workers at every Ministry are consumed with preparations for Hate Week. Winston works overtime altering news items to be quoted in speeches. London is plagued by sweltering heat, more rocket bombs than ever, and a series of unexplained explosions. The “Hate Song” competes for popularity with the song sung by the prole washerwoman, “It Was Only a Hopeless Fancy,” and a new poster showing a Eurasian soldier pointing a submachine gun now outnumbers posters of Big Brother. The proles are whipped into a patriotic frenzy that leads them to burn the new posters, effigies of Goldstein, and the home of an elderly couple suspected of being foreign spies.

Winston and Julia continue to meet in the rented room, which Winston thinks of as a paradise in spite of the bugs that infest the bed. He finds that his health is improving: he drinks less gin, gains weight, and finds relief from his chronic cough and varicose ulcer as well as from his former feeling that life was unbearable. The rented room has become its own tiny, inviolable world, and all that matters to Winston is knowing it exists. Winston often stops to talk with the quiet, solitary Mr. Charrington, who, like the room he rents, seems to be a relic of the past. In spite of the fact that they know their secret world cannot last forever, Winston and Julia both feel safe inside the room above the shop. They fantasize about escaping detection their whole lives, somehow managing to get married, committing suicide together, or disappearing from the Party and living as proles, but they have no intention of acting on these daydreams. They also discuss actively rebelling against the Party, but neither knows how. Julia believes that most people secretly hate the Party and trusts Winston’s intuition that O’Brien is on their side, but she doesn’t believe in Goldstein or the Brotherhood, whom she regards as inventions of the Party. She also surprises Winston with her belief that it is the Party itself that drops the rocket bombs on London and with the confession that she often feels an urge to laugh during the Two Minutes Hate. Yet Julia only questions Party doctrine when it personally affects her. Winston only manages to convince her with great difficulty that the Party didn’t actually invent airplanes and that just four years ago Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Julia is unable to grasp the significance of Winston’s story about finding the photograph of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford, and she remains unbothered by the continuous alteration of the past that so troubles Winston. She has no concern for the future of their society and becomes bored to the point of falling asleep when Winston voices his deeper concerns about Party doctrine. This causes him to reflect on the fact that the Party most successfully imposes its worldview on people who are incapable of truly understanding that worldview. It is these people who, through their lack of understanding, are able to remain sane.

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