What is the climax of 1984?

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The climax of 1984 is the moment when Winston Smith betrays Julia in Room 101 and chooses to conform to the authoritarian regime by becoming a loyal supporter of Big Brother. When Winston is confronted with the possibility of having his face eaten by ferocious rats, he succumbs to his biggest fear and abandons his individuality in favor of becoming an orthodox Party member.

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From the moment at the beginning of the novel when he opens the diary he has purchased and writes in it, Winston knows his life is over. He realizes he will eventually be caught by the Thought Police and, at best, serve twenty-five years in a hard labor camp.

As he gets increasingly mired in subversion, including his affair with Julia, Winston is more and more confirmed in the knowledge that a terrible fate awaits him. He understands that he will be arrested, tortured, and eventually killed for the challenge he poses to Party orthodoxy. However, as he discusses with Julia, even though he comprehends that he will reveal everything he knows under torture, he promises that he will stay loyal to her and never betray his love for her.

The climax of the novel comes when Winston is forced to confront his worst fear, which is having his face eaten by starving rats. At this climatic point, he betrays Julia. He screams that he wants the rats to eat Julia's face—and he means it. He would rather have her suffer this fate than have to undergo it himself. He cries,

Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia!

At this point, everything has been stripped from Winston. He is a broken man. Once he betrays Julia, he can no longer love her. The state has succeeded in robbing him of his dignity, his ability to think for himself, and his humanity, so that he is only an empty shell.

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The climax of 1984 is the moment when Winston Smith is forced to choose between his love for Julia or conforming to the Party by becoming an orthodox supporter of Big Brother in Room 101. In chapter 5 of book 3, Winston Smith is transported to Room 101, which is located underground in the Ministry of Love. Orwell creates tension and heightens the suspense as readers anticipate Winston facing his worst fear and continuing to challenge the Party. Inside Room 101, Winston is immobilized and strapped to a chair. O'Brien then shows Winston a cage containing large, ferocious rats, which is connected to a device that fits over Winston's entire head. A small door inside the device is the only thing separating the flesh-eating rats from Winston's face.

O'Brien recognizes that Winston's fear of rats will influence him to abandon hope and conform to the Party. O'Brien then tells Winston,

They [the rats] are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.

Once Winston sees the rats and O'Brien prepares to put the torture device over Winston's head, he begins to panic and struggles to save himself. The climax of the novel takes place moments before O'Brien presses the second lever to open the separating cage door and Winston finally succumbs to the Party by betraying Julia. Winston yells,

Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!

The climax of the novel is the moment Winston betrays Julia and chooses conformity over individuality in Room 101.

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The climax is the turning point of a story, where the narrative reaches its highest intensity and the moment when the rising action turns into the falling action. The rising action of the novel includes Winston's sexual encounters with Julia and their visit to O'Brien's opulent apartment, where they presumably join the Brotherhood. Winston and Julia also enjoy carrying on their affair in their rented apartment above Mr. Charrington's antique shop. The couple believes that the apartment is a safe haven from the ever-present eye of Big Brother. However, the reader knows that it is only a matter of time before Winston and Julia are arrested by the Thought Police.

One could argue that the climax of the novel takes place in Book Two, chapter ten when Winston and Julia wake up from their nap and realize that they are dead. Suddenly, a voice behind the picture of St. Clement's Church says, "You are the dead" and the couple realizes they've been caught. The picture then falls to the floor to reveal a telescreen while agents of the Thought Police burst through the window and door, stomping and beating Winston and Julia. Mr. Charrington turns out to be a member of the Thought Police and the couple is arrested. The falling action includes Winston's imprisonment in the Ministry of Love, where O'Brien tortures and brainwashes him until he becomes an orthodox Party member, who loves Big Brother.

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We know that it's only a matter of time until Big Brother catches Winston, but what we don't know is what the Party will do to him, how they'll do it, and to what extent they'll do it. The climax is when we learn that they want more than just confessions and death from the people they catch. The Party wants complete and total belief and the love of those who are rebellious. Therefore, the climax occurs when Winston gives in and admits "he loved Big Brother".

Julia had previously told Winston that Big Brother couldn't get "inside" a person, but we learn by the end that they can control every part of a person, inside and out. It's not enough that Winston agrees that "two and two make five"; he has to also profess his love for Big Brother. Once he does that, we see Winston's shell of his former self. His hair and teeth are gone, his body's destroyed, he's given a meaningless job, and then he becomes an alcoholic. This is all necessary in order for Oceania to live up to its philosophy: "WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."

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