Discussion Topic

Comparing the Parsons family and Winston Smith in "1984."

Summary:

The Parsons family in "1984" represents the unquestioning, compliant citizens of the Party, contrasting with Winston Smith's rebellious and critical nature. The Parsons embody the ideal Party members, accepting propaganda and surveillance without question, while Winston grapples with his desire for truth and individuality, ultimately leading to his resistance against the oppressive regime.

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In 1984, how do the Parsons differ from Winston Smith?

Winston Smith is an intelligent, political dissident, who vehemently opposes the Party and is not brainwashed into believing the government's overt lies. Winston actively seeks evidence to prove that life was better before the Party usurped power and is a thoughtcriminal, who writes "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" numerous times in his secret journal. Unlike the Parsons and the overwhelming majority of the population, Winston Smith is an independent thinker and one of the last remaining genuine human beings not obsessed with Big Brother.

In contrast, the Parsons are depicted as ignorant, completely orthodox Party members, who accept and believe the government's propaganda. Mr. Parsons is a staunch supporter of Big Brother and sacrifices his personal time to prepare for the Hate Week festivities. Their children are depicted as aggressive supporters of the Party, who are trained to spy on thoughtcriminals and report them to the Thought Police. Winston fears the children and discovers that they even turned in their father for engaging in thoughtcrime.

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In 1984, how do the Parsons differ from Winston Smith?

The biggest difference between the Parsons and Winston Smith is the passing of children. Winston does seem to be older than the Parsons and is still able to think for himself. The Parsons however, have bought into the society and the worship of Big Brother enough to be completely brainwashed. Here is how the narration describes Parson:

He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms - one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended.

Every character trait within this quote from the second chapter is the complete opposite of the questioning and intelligent Winston.

The Parsons' children were consumed with acting like the Thought Police and getting to see the hanging. This demonstrates what the power of a generation can do with education. Winston could still remember glimpses of life before the Party, these children were consumed with the tenants on which the Party stood.

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In 1984, how do Parsons' and Winston's attitudes towards imprisonment differ?

When Parsons and Winston Smith meet inside the Ministry of Love, they are both prisoners, and both accused of crimes that could allow them to be executed. However, the crucial difference between these two figures is that Parsons places absolute trust in the justice of the Ministry of Love, believing that he will be judged in a fair way, whereas Winston knows that what is happening bears no resemblance whatsoever to the word justice, and that his fate can be decided on a whim. Note how Parsons expresses his faith in the Party:

I know they give you a fair hearing. Oh, I trust them for that! They'll know my record, won't they? You know what kind of a chap I was. Not a bad chap in my way. Not brainy, of course, but keen. I tried to do my best for the Party, didn't I?

Parsons therefore believes that the Party will judge him fairly and will take into account his life and the fact that he has always tried to "do [his] best for the Party," somehow hoping that this will help him when it comes to his judgement. After describing to Winston how he had said "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep, he then says that he plans to say to the tribunal, "Thank you for saving me before it was too late." Parsons is thus used as the polar opposite of Winston Smith: he is a man who places absolute trust and faith in the judgement of the party and trusts implicitly that whatever fate he receives will be the correct one. Winston of course does not view the Party in such a generous way.

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