Last Updated on January 18, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 682
Julia is a twenty-six year old Outer Party member who works in the Fiction Department of the Ministry of Truth. She has dark hair and pale skin. Julia is a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League and prominently wears the red membership sash, much to Winston’s disgust. She also participates passionately in the Two Minutes Hate. After she hands Winston a note saying she loves him, they become illicit lovers. Beneath the veneer of Party loyalty, Julia is secretly rebellious. She has conducted a large number of sexual affairs and frequently buys black-market goods.
In comparison to Winston, who can remember a pre-Party world, Julia is young. For her, the Party is a deeply ingrained reality. When Winston asks her why she does so much community service, she says it helps her blend in and diverts suspicion from her more unorthodox activities. In contrast to Winston’s quest for ideological and intellectual fulfillment, Julia’s rebellion is focused on survival and personal pleasure. She hates the Party, but only because it limits her personal pursuits of pleasure; since it's an unalterable reality, she focuses on working within rather than against it.
Julia is a sexual person and is not shy about expressing her desires. Though the Party works to suppress sexual instincts in women, Julia has learned how to hide her desires. However, her desires seem to transcend sex. The Party dictates that sex should be solely for procreation—independent of love, pleasure, and desire. Under the Party, women's only function is to produce children. Femininity, beauty, and sensuality are repressed. By buying cosmetics and pursuing pleasureful rendezvous with other Party members, Julia attempts to reclaim her womanhood through sexuality and expressions of femininity.
Though Winston accuses her of only being a rebel “from the waist down,” Julia actually resists the deconstruction of her gendered identity simply by existing. Rather than allowing the Party to restrict her bodily autonomy and self-expression, Julia weaponizes her womanhood. She is not just another sexless “Party comrade.” Julia is proud to be a woman, a radical act in a world that suppresses both pride and femininity.
Julia is cunning and cautious, having conducted many affairs with other Party members prior to meeting Winston. Unlike Winston, who is fatalistic and pessimistic, Julia possesses a degree of optimism and a drive to find pleasure where she can. She believes that with enough caution and cunning, she can evade the Party and enjoy her life. Julia is a pragmatist; Winston is an idealist. Winston and Julia balance each other’s sensibilities, and they ultimately fall in love. However, it is Julia’s love for Winston that brings about her downfall.
Julia’s decision to join the Brotherhood with Winston can be read in different ways. By one interpretation, Julia’s love for Winston compels her to join him in his rebellious pursuits. Though she lacks interest in Goldstein’s teachings, Julia loves Winston enough to overcome her normally cunning and cautious nature and join the Brotherhood. By this reading, Julia’s downfall is the direct result of her decision to pursue Winston. The Party likely knew about her affairs, but it is not until she expresses truly rebellious thoughts that she becomes a traitor.
However, Julia can also be read as an Inner Party collaborator. Winston himself expresses doubt as to why a young woman like Julia would be interested in him. She also has access to a number of Inner Party products, like chocolate and coffee. By this reading, either Julia herself specifically targeted Winston or the Inner Party manipulated her into pursuing him in order to spur on his rebellious impulses. O’Brien mentions that he has been watching Winston for years on suspicion of thoughtcrimes and that he orchestrated Winston’s rebellion. If Julia truly conducted as many illicit affairs as she claims, it is unlikely that she would not have attracted the Party’s notice. Regardless of whether or not Julia is fully aware of the Inner Party’s machinations, it is likely that she was specifically chosen to help facilitate Winston’s downfall.