Suggested Essay Topics
Part 1, Chapter 1
1. Discuss the omnipresent posters of Big Brother in terms of his physical appearance as well as the phrase “Big Brother Is Watching You.” What does the caption imply about the society in which Winston Smith lives? Are these implications supported by evidence from Chapter 1?
2. Discuss the three party slogans and what each statement implies about this society. What does the public’s easy acceptance of these mottos suggest about the populace at this stage of the story
Part 1, Chapter 2
1. Examine the ways in which the Party makes itself stronger by influencing the youth of Oceania. Discuss the daily lives of the Parsons’ children. What are their favorite games? How do they like to dress? What seems to be their attitude toward thoughtcrime?
2. Discuss Winston’s need to continue his diary despite the obvious implications of capture and punishment.
Part 1, Chapter 3
1. Describe the circumstances surrounding the death of Winston’s mother. What are his conflicting emotions? Tell why her death is doubly tragic, in view of societal changes since Winston’s childhood.
2. Discuss the implications of Winston’s dreams as acts of thoughtcrime.
Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5
1. Discuss the function of the Ministry of Truth. What is ironic about its title? Explain what Winston does there and how he feels about his work. Explain how the creation of Comrade Ogilvy supports the Party motto.
2. How would you explain both Parsons’ and Syme’s acceptance of obvious propaganda? Discuss the reasons.
Part 1, Chapters 6 and 7
1. The Party’s influence on marriage and family life has been profound. What is the Party’s official position on marriage and children? To what extent was Katharine affected by this position?
2. How does the Party acknowledge that the sexual instinct may not always be controlled? Evaluate Winston’s feelings about his visit to the prostitute.
Part 1, Chapter 8
1. Explore Winston’s attempts to hold on to the past. Tell why his conversation with the old man only increases his frustrations.
2. What does the upstairs room at Charrington’s shop mean to Winston? Why does he buy the paperweight? How might this action be interpreted symbolically?
Part 2, Chapter 1
1. From the beginning, the circumstances surrounding this love affair suggest its doom. Explain how Winston first learns of Julia’s interest in him. Detail their difficulties in arranging a meeting. Why can they not meet in the open? Why had Winston initially distrusted Julia, and why do his feelings change?
2. Discuss Winston’s fearing Julia while at the same time wanting to help her because she is a human being.
Part 2, Chapter 2
1. Orwell makes use of several symbols here, especially those occurring in Winston’s dream of the Golden Country. List and explain the common elements in the dream and in Winston and Julia’s first sexual encounter. Focus especially on the landscape, the girl’s gesture, and the thrush as symbols.
2. Explain how the establishment of a relationship between Winston and Julia has many levels of meaning—personal, political, etc.
Part 2, Chapter 3
1. Orwell has placed major emphasis on the character of Julia in this chapter. Evaluate her statement that she is “not clever.” What evidence refutes this statement?
2. What does Julia’s position on Party doctrine reveal? How does this position contrast with Winston’s views?
Part 2, Chapter 4
1. The coral paperweight becomes a major symbol in this novel. When Julia asks about the paperweight, how does Winston explain its significance? What has the paperweight come to symbolize to Winston himself? Give evidence to support the fact that the room, like the paperweight, has become a sanctuary or refuge for Winston and Julia.
2. Discuss Winston’s reaction to the peasant woman’s song. What is ironic about its source? What additional qualities of the peasant woman does Winston admire?
Part 2, Chapter 5
1. As the novel progresses, we see several physical changes in Winston. Describe these...
(The entire section is 1,434 words.)