How does Chapter 1 of 1984 set the stage for future events, using imagery and mentions of rights abuses?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The opening sentence lets the reader know the setting of the story is not the current day because our clocks do not strike 13. The reader also is quickly aware of the bleakness of the setting when the description of the smells refers to boiled cabbage and old rag mats.  A general air of gloom and depression is pervasive in the introductory description and a definite sense of foreboding is present in the revelation of the caption under the huge poster of Big Brother.  Immediately the reader knows this is not going to be a typical science fiction story of the future.  The references to the ever-present, never turned off, telescreen removes any doubt that the time setting of the story is the future and that the future is not a pleasant one.  The reader knows that the story is going to be about suppression of the individual and government control.  Orwell describes the main character, Winston Smith, in a way that lets the reader see Winston's life as bleak and depressing, largely because he has no control over his own life.  By letting the reader hear what the telescreen is saying and letting the reader know those words are not true, sets up the reader for the story to follow. It is obvious in this futuristic society that the government controls everything, including the past.  What the story reveals to the reader, then, is how much the government controls, how that came to be, and what happens when someone tries to defy that government.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial