Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

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Winston and Julia finally visit O’Brien’s apartment. The building is intimidatingly lavish, and this, combined with the danger of his and Julia’s arriving together, makes Winston terribly nervous. They are admitted by O’Brien’s servant, who Winston thinks might be Chinese, and led into a room where O’Brien sits at a desk delivering a message in Ministry jargon into a speakwrite. Winston is terrified when O’Brien walks toward them. He wonders if he has made a horrible mistake and is then shocked when O’Brien switches off his telescreen. O’Brien explains that turning off the telescreen is a privilege granted to Inner Party members and invites Winston to speak. Winston nervously explains that he and Julia, who he admits are having an affair, have come because they believe O’Brien is part of a secret anti-Party organization that they want to join. The servant enters, and O’Brien explains that his name is Martin and that he is one of them. All four sit down together, and O’Brien pours them each a glass of wine, which Winston and Julia have never seen before. They drink to Emmanuel Goldstein, the Leader of the Brotherhood. O’Brien then asks Winston what he and Julia are prepared to do for the Brotherhood. The pair agree they would commit murder, sabotage, treason, and suicide, distribute drugs or diseases, lose their identities, and even throw acid in a child’s face. But when O’Brien asks if the two of them would be willing to part and never see each other again, Julia immediately says no. After a few moments, Winston says no as well. O’Brien warns Julia that the Brotherhood sometimes surgically alters its members until they are unrecognizable, but she murmurs her agreement. Winston wonders if Martin has been surgically altered, but he can’t see any scars. Following O’Brien’s instructions, the servant memorizes Winston’s and Julia’s faces before returning to the pantry.

Winston and Julia listen raptly as O’Brien explains the methods of the Brotherhood. He promises to send them a book describing the true nature of Oceanian society and how the Brotherhood intends to destroy it, a book that will make them full members of the Brotherhood once they have read it. He warns them, however, that their knowledge of the organization and of other members will always remain extremely limited so that they will have very little to confess when they are arrested. Their instructions will come from O’Brien, through Martin. Winston notes that when O’Brien discusses the things they must do to topple the Party, his tone is ironic rather than passionately fanatical, as though he recognizes that these actions are unavoidable means to a better future. O’Brien seems undefeatable, and Winston feels intense admiration for him. As he paces up and down, O’Brien explains that the Brotherhood can never be destroyed, because it is held together only by an idea rather than by comradeship. He warns Winston and Julia that they won’t see the results of their work within their lifetimes, echoing Winston’s previous words: “We are the dead.” The only results they can hope to achieve by individually spreading knowledge and sanity will be in the distant future. When they are arrested, they will receive no help from the Brotherhood except perhaps in the form of a smuggled razor blade. The three finish off the wine, drinking, at Winston’s suggestion, to the past. Julia then leaves so that she and Winston won’t be seen leaving together.

When O’Brien asks Winston if he and Julia have a hiding place, Winston tells him about the room above the junk shop. O’Brien then tells Winston that one day...

(This entire section contains 830 words.)

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he will receive a message at work with a misprint. The next day, Winston should come to work without his briefcase; a man on the street will hand him a briefcase just like his own that will contain a copy of the book written by Goldstein, which Winston will have two weeks to read. A few minutes before Winston is due to leave, O’Brien says, “We shall meet again—if we do meet again—” and Winston finishes, “In the place where there is no darkness?” O’Brien repeats the phrase without surprise, then asks Winston if he has any further messages or questions. Winston thinks of the room where he lived with his mother and of the room above the junk shop with its paperweight and engraving. He asks O’Brien if he knows the old rhyme Mr. Charrington taught him. To Winston’s amazement, O’Brien recites it, supplying the last line of the stanza. He then bids Winston farewell by crushing his palm in a powerful handshake. As Winston leaves, he looks back at O’Brien and sees him waiting to turn the telescreen back on, his mind apparently already turning back to his work.


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