1984 Study Guide


1984 by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four is an allegorical dystopian novel about the dangers of police states, groupthink, and surveillance of the public. It follows the hapless government employee Winston Smith as he dreams secretly and fruitlessly of rebellion against the all-powerful Big Brother and the Inner Party. Smith's England has been renamed Airstrip One, its citizens stripped of their individuality, its world locked in a constant state of manufactured war. It is a grim vision of the future intended as a commentary on the policies of England at the time of its writing.

Chapters 4-5 Summary

Chapter 4 Summary

Brief Summary

Winston has decided to rent Mr. Charrington's room for he a Julia to continue their love affair. Mr. Charrington doesn't seem interested in knowing the reason for Winston's interest in the room. Winston prepares Julia to arrive while listening to a woman singing the latest popular song outside the window. As soon as Julia appears, she sets out some valuable, authentic food that she obtained through an Inner Party connection. She then puts on make-up and perfume, promising Winston that soon she will also find clothing to make her a woman instead of just a comrade. After they make love, Julia prowls around the room, commenting on the old print of St. Clement's of Dane. To Winston's surprise, she recited a portion of the old nursery rhyme about the churches in London. They enjoy their last hour together in silence.

Detailed Summary

Winston has returned to Mr. Charrington's store to rent the bedroom. Winston lights the old oilstove to prepare a pot of water for the Victory Coffee he brought for the evening. As he's making his preparations, Winston begins to think again about the dangers and foolishness of his renting the room. He knows that as a Party member, this is the hardest crime for him to conceal from the Thought Police. Mr. Charrington made renting the room very easy for Winston and made no comments about his renting for the purpose of a love affair. Mr. Charrington believes that privacy is valuable and everyone wants a place for solitude. He also believes that it is common courtesy for anyone who knows of another's hiding place, so to speak, to keep it secret.

Outside the window, Winston can hear a woman singing as she hangs her laundry. The song she is singing

has been playing on the telescreen for several weeks, the lyrics of which were composed by a versificator

by the Music Department at the Ministry of Truth It was only an 'opeless fancy, It passed like an Iprildye, But a look an' a word the dreams they stirred. They 'ave stolen my 'eart awye! (138). Winston

remembers the last time he and Julia attempted to meet she cancelled because of her menstrual cycle.

Winston was upset but a squeeze of the hand from Julia reassured him. He suggested renting the room to her

and she readily agreed

When Julia finally arrives, she brings with her real coffee, real tea, real sugar, a loaf of white bread, jam, and milk. Winston is curious to know how she obtained such valuable items. Julia claims that an Inner Party connection helped her in procuring the food. After setting them out, she asks Winston to turn his back to her. When she allows him to look at her again, her face is made up and she smells of perfume. Before they climb into bed, she proclaims her intention to obtain a dress, silk stockings, and high heeled shoes so that she can be a woman, not a Party comrade (143). When they wake up, Julia makes coffee and makes note of the hour they have left. She sees a rat and begins telling Winston of the infestation at her hostel. Winston begs her to stop because he has a phobia of the rodents.

After making the coffee, Julia wanders around the room investigating all the antiques. She points out the print of St. Clement's Dane, recognizing it, and asks Winston what it is. He tells her it's an old church and recites the first line of the nursery rhyme Mr. Charrington shared with him. Surprisingly, Julia adds two more lines but cannot remember the rest. Her grandfather, who was vaporized when she was eight, taught her when she was a little girl. She promises to take the picture down one day to give it a good cleaning before preparing to return home before lights out in her hostel.

Chapter 5 Summary

Brief Summary

The chapter opens with the news of Syme's vaporization. It's the beginning of Hate Week and all the Ministries are working overtime. Winston and Julia are only able to meet in the room seven times the entire month of June. While there they discuss the possibility of escaping London to live as proles as well as actively rebelling against the Party. Winston learns that Julia has given serious thought to the Party's duplicity. However, she makes it clear that she doesn't care as long as her life is not terribly affected by their doctrines. Winston reveals the type of work he does at the Ministry as well as the story about being coming across the photograph of Aronson, Rutherford, and Jones.

Detailed Summary

Syme has disappeared. When Winston searches for his name on the Chess Committee list, he sees that it is no longer there: a clear indication that Syme has been vaporized. This is the beginning of Hate Week and all the Ministries are working overtime. Winston spends much of his time altering news items that are to be used in speeches throughout the week. The Hate Song has replaced It Was Only a Hopeless Fancy that the prole woman was singing while hanging her laundry. A new poster depicting a Eurasian soldier ominously pointing a gun has been hung across London. The proles, who normally are indifferent to the war, have been demonstrating as result of the increased bombing and consequent deaths in their area.

Julia and Winston continue to meet in the room when they are able. Over the month of June they meet between four and seven times. Winston has stopped drinking gin and has gained some weight. Even his varicose ulcer has subsided. Having the room as a safe haven has improved the quality of his life. At times he speaks with Mr. Charrington on his way up to the room, learning more about the forgotten history after which he eagerly sought. However, both Winston and Julia realize that their secret will not remain secret for much longer. They occasionally allow themselves to feel a sense of permanency in the room. Often they discuss escaping from the watchful eye of Big Brother and live as proles with new identities. Other times they speak of openly rebelling against the Party. Winston tells Julia of his presumed bond with O'Brien and his compulsion to announce himself as an enemy of the Party while enlisting O'Brien's assistance. Julia does not see this as completely absurd because she believes that everyone secretly hates the Party. However, Julia does not believe that the Brotherhood or even Goldstein exists.

She has also considered the possibility that the government drops the bombs in order to maintain heightened levels of fear and insecurity among the people. At the same time, though, she does believe the false history that Party teaches children and does not question its doctrine unless it personally affects her. Winston finds this and her inability to remember that only four years ago Eastasia was Oceania's enemy shocking. Julia does not care because they always at war with someone. Winston tells her about his falsification work at the Ministry and reveals that he was once in possession of the photograph that could prove the Party's lies. Again, she sees neither the importance nor the value of taking the risk of using such evidence to topple the Party. Her interest is not in saving the future, only in saving herself. Although Winston does not understand how Julia and people like her can accept the Party's doctrine without question, he does realize that doing so causes them no harm.

Chapters 4-5 Analysis

Chapter 4 marks a significant change in Julia's and Winston's relationship. Winston has decided to take the risk of renting Mr. Charrington's upstairs rooms so that he and Julia can continue their affair in relative safety. They have spent several weeks scheduling and rescheduling meetings. One of the meetings was canceled because Julia was in the middle of her menstrual cycle. Although Winston was disappointed and somewhat angry, he recognized the normalcy the symbolized by her menstruation; it's something all couples deal with every month. The squeeze from Julia's hand heightens the sentiment that she and Winston are in a typical relationship. Orwell uses this to show the personal progress Winston has made since he began the affair with Julia. In the beginning, he had only seen her as an outlet for his sexual frustration and violent tendencies. Now he sees her as a companion whose company he eagerly anticipates. The reader can find proof of this in the careful preparation he makes for her arrival. He has brought Victory Coffee and saccharin tablets with him so that they can enjoy a leisurely evening together.

Julia has changed as well, though her change is more implied. When she and Winston first meet in the Golden Country, her attitude towards sex and relationships is nonchalant; however, now she interested in giving as well as receiving pleasure. Proof of this can be seen in her attempt to develop a feminine exterior for Winston. When she finally arrives in the room, she puts make-up on her face and sprays herself with perfume. Her final proclamation before getting into bed is that she is steadily working on becoming a real woman rather than just an asexual comrade. Further proof of her change in attitude is the gifts that she brings to the room. She has managed to find real coffee, tea, sugar, milk, bread, and jam: all things that are virtually impossible for even Inner Party members to obtain. Though she does not explain how she obtained these items, one can assume she went to great lengths in order to supply them.

Despite the growth of their relationship, the reader must note that the maturity of their love is also a result of the precarious position they are now in. Their individual fates are now bound to each other. When one is arrested, the other will soon follow if they are not arrested together. They both will endure the same punishment for not only violating Party sex doctrine, but for also committing though-crime. Their love has become such an important aspect of their lives because they both know they have nothing left to hold. When one commits thought-crime, he is relinquishing their life as he knows it. Just as this lies beneath the surface of their relationship, filth and bugs lie beneath surface charm of the room they have rented. It is only a matter of time before these things rise to the surface.

Orwell uses the beginning of Chapter 5 to remind the reader that not only are the impetuses for arrest arbitrary, but so isn't the selection of who they arrest. Syme has been vaporized though Winston isn't able to confirm this until several days after noticing that his co-worker was missing. After having spent several weeks in idyllic romantic bliss, Winston is ushered back into the obsessive world of the Party and though-crime. Brilliantly, Orwell uses economy to his advantage in the treatment of Syme's death. He dedicates no more than a few brief paragraphs thus emphasizing the callous, inhuman nature of vaporization as well as the ease with which a person can disappear. No one in the Ministry mentions his name once they notice he is gone. The risk of doing so is far too high. Orwell moves from Syme's vaporization to the preparations for Hate Week as if to say that killing a seemingly loyal party member is a prelude to a full week of venomous hatred toward Oceania's enemy.

Hate Week offers the reader another glimpse into the intellectual differences between Julia and Winston. Julia reveals to Winston that she doubts the war between Oceania and Eurasia is real. To his surprise, she even suggests that the bombs falling frequently around London are dropped by the Oceanian army. Winston's surprise at her suggestion is more from his not having considered the possibility of Oceania's army killing it's own citizens. However, Julia's theory that maintaining a constant state of war facilitates the Party's control over its citizens is as remarkably astute as her theory about the Party's interest in preventing sexual relationships from developing. Again, Julia emphasizes that she neither understands nor wants to understand the Party's motivations for doing such things. She has reconciled herself to the world in which she lives. She realizes that the Party is a pervasive force against which people are disinclined to revolt for the simple fact that it would create more problems than the ones they currently face.

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