1984 Questions and Answers

George Orwell

Read real teacher answers to our most interesting 1984 questions.

Does Winston truly change?

Winston is not fully an appropriated "cog in the machine" in the novel's exposition. Throughout the novel, we see that there are parts of his life that actively embrace a world outside of Big Brother. His affair with Julia is one example.

Even when Winston is reeducated, he initially does not seem to be a completely changed person—as evident from the small doodles he does at the end while he is sitting at the Chestnut Tree Cafe. He also remembers his mother playing Snakes and Ladders with him. These "false memories" can be pushed aside, but they will always be with him. Winston might have been "changed," yet there is still a part of his consciousness, a small recess or corner of his being, that seems to remain untouched by Big Brother and the Party. However, by the very end of the novel, it is clear that Winston has wholly succumbed to his brainwashing as he looks up at a portrait of Big Brother with love.

When was 1984 published?

George Orwell's futuristic dystopian novel, 1984, was first published in 1949. It responds to what Orwell saw as the increasing threat of totalitarianism. Although one major target of Orwell's satiric vision was Stalinist Russia, it was far from the only totalitarian society to which Orwell was reacting.

As Orwell was writing the novel, the Allies had just defeated, after great sacrifice and struggle, the totalitarian Axis powers of Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. Franco was in control of Spain. In 1949, Mao came to power in China. Thus the novel reacts to what Orwell saw as an increasing threat to the liberal democracies which had developed in the nineteenth centuries by the growth of fascism and totalitarianism.