Summary

We are introduced to Winston Smith, who lives in London and works for the Ministry of Truth in the Records Department. He has recently obtained a blank journal, which he intends to use to write down his true feelings, but is constantly afraid that his actions will be revealed to the Thought Police. He recounts his experience with viewing the Two Minutes Hate, a propaganda video played at his office, and the way the video elicited an intense and vicious response from the people watching it. Winston then writes down his contempt and hatred for his society, especially for the dictator known as Big Brother.

Quote

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutizined" (Orwell 12-13).

Discussion Questions

Why does Winston seem to make such an immediate connection with O'Brien, despite never having a conversation with him?

Why does Mrs. Parsons appear helpless and afraid of her own children?

Learning Station

What does the chorus mean?

The chorus means that you are always being watched, which is why the chorus says "Lights, Camera, Transaction." The idea that you are under constant surveillance almost seems like you're in a reality TV show. The "transaction" refers to the endless stream of propaganda that feeds through the telescreens in the story, in return for the surveillance of the citizens.

What about the rest of the song? Be sure to mention specific lines.

The rest of the song is talking about the artificialness of televised media.

Part 1, Sect. 3-6 Response

The most interesting aspect of the dystopian society presented in 1984 to me is the controlled language of Newspeak. Newspeak is like the majority of the English language was all destroyed in a huge conflagration. Adjectives, adverbs, synonyms, and antonyms are all made completely irrelevant, and with the destruction of these words also goes creativity, thought, ideas, and meaning. The design of Newspeak is to turn the population of Oceania into callous and mindless robots whose minds are conditioned to strictly follow pure orthodoxy, because undesirable ideals are unable to be expressed in Newspeak's limited vocabulary. Instead of merely quelling freedom of thought, Newspeak completely obliterates that concept. The entire concept of Newspeak in itself is terrifying, since free expression, free thought, free speech, and even free will are all nonexistent. People will be forced to follow the inveterate ideologies of their government, and won't be able to do anything about the fact. The population becomes robotic, programmed drones.

Part 1, Sect. 7-8 Discussion Questions

Why is Winston both hopeful and hopeless of the proles?

What is the significance of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford to Winston?

Why is the old prole man in the bar unable to answer Winston's questions about the past?


Winston finds hope in the proles mainly because of their numbers. They make up 85% of the population, and if they all had a collective motivation, they could have the potential to overthrow the Party. The proles are also the least regarded members of society by the Party, so their uprising would catch them off-guard. However, Winston knows that a revolution can't happen because the proles have been conditioned by the Party to be uneducated through the use of sensationalist entertainment to keep their minds busy with meaningless thoughts. These meaningless thoughts allow them to be more easily influenced by the Party's principles. Winston writes in his journal: "Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious" (Orwell 82). He reasons that the rebellion cannot happen since the proles have no concept of freedom, which is part of the Party's design.

Winston and Julia's Relationship

Winston's love affair with Julia represents their want to rebel against the Party. Although it's not a large-scale revolution, Winston knows that such an event may never happen. The best way that he can fulfill his own personal spite towards the Party is by sharing it with someone else in secret, while he still has the chance to. Orwell says, “But you could not have pure love or pure lust nowadays. No emotion was pure, because everything was mixed up with fear and hatred. Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act" (Orwell 139). Their love is built upon their hate for the Party, which intends to limit and control people's thoughts and emotions, including the longest-lasting and most inherent desire of all humans: lust. By partaking in their affair, Winston and Julia are defying the Party by indulging in the desires that they wish to eliminate.

Propaganda Slogan

"Trust Big Brother, and he will trust You." This slogan states that as long as Oceania's citizens put their faith in the Party and believe all of its ideals and principles, the Party will have no need to vaporize them. The citizens can live with the (fake) notion that they are safe and secure under the the Party's control.

Part 2, Sections 4-8 Quotes

“In this room I’m going to be a woman, not a Party comrade." (Orwell 156)

“To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one’s lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available.” (Orwell 165)

“By sharing a small act of thoughtcrime he had turned the two of them into accomplices.” (Orwell 172)

“But if the object was not to stay alive but to stay human, what difference did it ultimately make? They could not alter your feelings: for that matter you could not alter them yourself, even if you wanted to. They could lay bare in the utmost detail everything that you had done or said or thought; but the inner heart, whose workings were mysterious even to yourself, remained impregnable.” (Orwell 181)

“The Brotherhood cannot be wiped out because it is not an organisation in the ordinary sense. Nothing holds it together except an idea which is indestructible. You will never have anything to sustain you, except the idea.” (Orwell 190)

Perpetual War Article Summary

The article "Orwell's '1984' becoming a reality in modern-day America" by Michael Payne describes his opinion that the American government resembles the totalitarian Party found in George Orwell's novel 1984. His first and main point is the perpetual state of war that America has locked itself into. Ever since World War II, America has engaged in war after war; each war seems to directly lead into another one. Payne also comments on the idea of doublethink being present in our American government. He points out that although President Obama had received the Nobel Peace Prize, he has simultaneously allocated much of his efforts into conducting wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Payne's next point discusses how the government exploits the threat of perpetual war. He says that President Bush's main goal for the war on terror was not to eliminate the threat of terrorism, but to subjugate the American population by instilling fear. Payne then focuses on the ways that American civil rights are being violated through acts such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act. He says that these acts are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which states that people have a right to privacy. Payne concludes his article with a warning that America is heading into the "Big Brother" era, and that people should be aware of what their government is really doing to them.

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