1984 Reading Log
Neel Kovelamudi

Part 1 Sections 1 & 2

Summary: Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party in the totalitarian country of Oceania, whose leader is Big Brother, and Winston works at the Ministry of Truth. He is taking a day off from work because he saw a woman who looked dangerous, and this provoked him into his rebellious thoughts; he uses this time to illegally start writing in his diary. Winston constantly contemplates the entire world around him, and it leads to him dangerously dissenting Big Brother, a thoughtcrime punishable by death. Winston is then called in by one of his neighbors, Mrs. Parsons, to fix a clogged sink, and when he gets there, her children accuse him of being a traitor in awful seriousness. When Winston returns, he decides to continue his diary for the future generations to come, even if it means his death or his writings destroyed.

Quote: "Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull" (Orwell 36-37).

2 Discussion Questions:

1) Is Winston really alone in his thoughts questioning the society around him?

2) How is the Party so successful in controlling its population?

Part 1 Sections 3 - 6

As the story of 1984 continues to develop, the details of the society around Winston is becoming more and more dystopian, including in the language of Oceania. The Ministry of Truth has an entire department just for editing the language, Newspeak, to eliminate words that incite dangerous thoughts and thus quell any opposition to the Party. Winston's acquaintance, Syme, is elated to be working on a new edition of Newspeak, and Syme describes the elimination of words so much that no one in the year 2050 will be able to understand their current conversation. He talks of changes in even the most basic of words, such as good, excellent, and splendid to good, plusgood, and doubleplusgood. Newspeak is changing so much so fast that a lot of Oldspeak (English) remains indelible from Winston's memory, and he therefore has to think in English, his only inveterate and unchanging language. One of the saddest parts of the changing of language is how much Syme was excited about the change, almost like a tractable, callous slave to the limitless power of the totalitarian Party. The entire society of 1984 is constantly oppressed, like Syme and Winston, by the changing of language to prevent any  form of expression.

Part 1 Sections 7 & 8

3 Discussion Questions:

1) Why do the Proles choose not to revolt against the totalitarian dictatorship?

2) How is the Party so successful in controlling the Proles so they are completely unsuspicious of them?

3) How does the Party control the past, present, and the future through media?

Response to #2:

The Party is so successful in their control of the Proles because they grant them controlled freedoms and limit their access to education or knowledge, quelling any form of uprising. The Proles, as a result, are obedient, mindless, emotionless slaves to the Party and are considered less than human. The Party even takes advantage of the Proles's mindlessness by sending "a few agents of the Thought Police [that] moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous” (Orwell 83). Through taking advantage of the Proles, the Proles are constantly subordinates to the overwhelming powers of the totalitarian dictatorship in Oceania.

Part 2 Sections 1 - 3

Winston and Julia have developed a strong and loving relationship in a surprisingly little amount of time. I would attribute the belief that they are both alone in their rebellious stance against the Party, meaning they are going through the same situation. This creates a mutual understanding about each other even before they meet. (Birds of a feather flock together.) Even before they formally meet and make love, they understand so much about each other clandestinely after Winston reads Julia's original note. Even before they meet each other, She introduces herself as "Julia. I know yours. It's Winston - Winston Smith" (Orwell 133). Another factor contributing to this is that Winston and Julia lead rather monotonous lives, and the only things that bring color to their lives are their thoughts of one another, bringing them closer and closer even when they are apart. Overall, because of the monotony of the society around them, the color they bring to each other's lives, and the beliefs they share, Julia and Winston are drawn together in a genuine, loving relationship.

Slogan Activity

This slogan poster has several strong effects on the reader, such as instilling fear. The slogan,"Thoughtcrime Is Death" is mentioned by Winston when he is writing in his diary. This poster shows that thoughtcrime, or thinking and having transgressive beliefs that do not adhere to the Party, is an automatic death sentence. The glasses are a symbol of intelligence and awareness, and they are cracked and burning in eternal flames. The light bulb is a symbol of intelligence, thought, and creativity, all of which are oppressed by the Party and are examples of thoughtcrime. On the light bulb there is a hole and cracks formed by the firing of a submachine gun. This submachine gun symbolizes the ultimate death that awaits anyone who transgresses through thoughtcrime, and it is firing at the light bulb, a symbol of intelligence. The dark background and shadowy red letters symbolize the darkness and pain that will befall anyone who commits thoughtcrime. The overall color scheme of red, white, and black is the color of the Party and shows the overwhelming power they hold. Lastly, red has been a color attributed to communism and totalitarian dictatorships in the 20th Century, and it shows death, pain, and blood. Due to all of these factors, this poster gets the message across effectively to the reader.

Part 2 Sections 4 - 8

Chapter 4: "The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia’s life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal" (Orwell 160).

Chapter 5: "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).

Chapter 6: “He had the sensation of stepping into the dampness of a grave, and it was not much better because he had always known that the grave was there and waiting for him” (Orwell 173).

Chapter 7: “What mattered were individual relationships, and a completely helpless gesture, an embrace, a tear, a word spoken to a dying man, could have value in itself. The proles, it suddenly occurred to him, had remained in this condition” (Orwell 179).

Chapter 8:  "'You are prepared, the two of you, to separate and never see one another again?'/‘No!’ broke in Julia” (Orwell 187).

"Little Brother Is Watching " Summary

In this technologically advanced world of today, we may not realize how many violations of our privacy are occurring every day, almost comparable to the constant violations of privacy by the government of Oceania in 1984. It can be for the better or even for the worse. A university student, Tyler Clementi, who was videotaped by his roommate having an intimate encounter, committed suicide. A man videotaped his girlfriend dancing in front of a WiiFit, a video that eventually became viral and brought her to fame. It can also create a call to action and expose crimes, such as the secret videotaping in the Iraqi war prison Abu Ghraib. Privacy is constantly being violated, especially on the Internet, where video and images can spread like wildfire. Unlike the world of 1984, we don't really know when or how we're being watched. Our lives are no longer our own, and the lack of privacy in our world is almost like the lack of privacy in the dystopian world of 1984.

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