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.

Chapter 10 Summary

Brief Summary

Winston wakes up well rested though the clock tells him he has only been asleep for a short period of time. The laundry woman outside the window begins singing again, causing Julia to wake up. She discovers that the oilstove has no oil in it and that the room has grown cold. She and Winston get dressed and then stand by the window to watch the sun-less sky and the washer woman hang her laundry. After stating they are the dead, a voice from behind the print of St. Clement's Dane echoes them. They discover a telescreen by the print. Julia is taken away first after being hit in the stomach. Winston is left with Mr. Charrington who reveals himself as a member of the Thought Police.

Detailed Summary

Winston awakens feeling as though he has slept a long time; however, the clock on the wall reads only twenty-thirty. Suddenly he hears the same laundry woman seeing It Was Only a Hopeless Fancy . Julia wakes up hungry and prepares to make coffee only to find that there is no oil left in the stove. She tells Winston that it is a peculiar thing because she made sure it was full before getting into bed. Julia then notices that the room has grown colder. Both she and Winston get dressed. Winston stands by the window, noticing that the sun is no longer shining. He peers down at the laundry woman's full figure and remarks on its beauty. Winston begins to think about the children he and Julia will never have to pass on the secret held in Goldstein's book. Again looking at the woman, reviews the information from the book. He finds it curious that people all over the world are the same: ignorant and separated by misplaced hatred and lies. He still believes that hope lay in the proles, despite their ignorance.

Both of them repeat the singular line that describes the status of Brotherhood members We are the dead (221). From behind them comes a steely voice that answers them with a confirmation. The print of Old St. Clement's Dane crashes to the floor after Julia realizes the voice has come from behind it. There is a telescreen on the wall looking at them. They are commanded to remain still while the Thought Police crash through the room. One of Thought Police smashes the glass paperweight while another strikes Julia in her stomach after she kicked the first one. She is carried out of the room gasping for breath. Winston then realizes that they had overslept and the actual time is eight-thirty the following morning. At that moment Mr. Charrington enters the room demanding that someone clean up the broken glass. He then stands at his full height, looking at Winston and demonstrating his power as a member of the Though Police.

Part 3

Chapter 1 Summary

Brief Summary

Winston believes that he is the Ministry of Love. He is in cell with numerous other prisoners, both political and ordinary. He does not know how long he has been in the cell, but his hunger pains tell him that is has been between twenty-four and thirty-six hours. While he waits for the interrogation to begin, two of his comrades, Ampleforth and Parsons, enter the cell. Both have been arrested for thought-crime. He also meets an old woman whose last name he shares. They both speculate on the possibility of her being his mother. As he waits, prisoners are summoned and returned from Room 101, an area unfamiliar to Winston. One of them is a man who is obviously dying of starvation. Both he and a prisoner who attempts to offer him bread are horrifically assaulted by the guards. Eventually he is summoned to Room 101 as well.

Detailed Summary

Winston presumes he is in the Ministry of Love though he is not certain. The windowless, stark white, brightly lit room has a narrow bench lining the walls and four telescreens on each wall. He has a dull pain in his stomach from not having eaten in perhaps twenty-four or thirty-six hours. As he sits still and quiet on the bench, Winston observes the striking differences between the Party prisoners and ordinary criminals. The latter are rowdy and rather disaffected by their situation while the aforementioned are obviously fearful of the impending consequences.

Suddenly four guards bring a large, abrasive woman in the cell who vomits on the floor as soon as she sits next to Winston. She asks Winston his name and learns that they have the same last name. She then wonders aloud that she might be his mother. Winston does not dispute this given her age and the fact that he would not recognize mother after thirty years of separation. While contemplating the hunger pains in his stomach the event of is arrest, the poet Ampleforth is brought in the cell. He tells Winston that he was arrested two to three days ago for leaving the word God at the end of an altered version of a Kipling poem. After Ampleforth comments on the impossibility of calculating time in the prison, a prison guard enters the cell and call Ampleforth into Room 101. Immediately after Ampleforth leaves, Parsons walks into the cell. Winston, who is shocked by the sight of a devout Party member in the Ministry, asks Parson why he is there. His daughter caught him saying Down with Big Brother in his sleep and reported him to the Thought Police. Parsons is proud of his daughter's loyalty to the Party, but so ashamed of his apparent disloyalty that he has decided to thank the tribunal for saving him from falling into unorthodoxy. Parson is then brought from the cell as more prisoners enter. There is another call for a prisoner to move to Room 101 and Winston notices her change in demeanor at hearing the room number.

More prisoners are brought in, on of whom is showing physical signs of starvation. A chinless prisoner attempts to offer the man a piece of bread but is prevented by the telescreens command for him to drop the bread. Guards enter the cell, one of whom strikes the chinless man in the mouth with enough force to send him across the cell. The starving prisoner is then called to Room 101. At hearing this, he throws himself at the mercy of the officer, begging him to take the chinless man rather than him. He promises to say and sign anything as long as he does not have to return to the room. His desperation leads him to grab hold of the bench legs. Unable to wrench him free, one of the callous guards kicks his hand, breaking the man's fingers. They carry the disabled man from the cell.

Hours pass and Winston is left alone in the cell. He often walks around the room to ease the pain caused by sitting for an extended period of time. His hunger is causing him dizziness and faintness so he returns to the bench. He thinks of O'Brien and the possibility of his bringing Winston a razor blade with which he can commit suicide. He also thinks of Julia and the possible suffering she could be enduring. He thinks that he would double his pain in order to prevent her pain but realizes that it is an obligatory thought. He doesn't actually feel compassion or any emotion in the Ministry. The sound of boots approaching interrupts his thoughts. O'Brien enters the cell and smugly tells Winston You knew this, Winston... Don't deceive yourself. You did know it- you have always known (239) that O'Brien had set him in a trap.

Part 2: Chapter 10-Part 3: Chapter 1 Analysis

The tone of Chapter 10 is markedly different than that of previous chapters. Not only is the pace unhurried, but there is a moment of order and peace not felt before. When Winston wakes up from what seemed like an unusually long nap, he takes a moment to listen to the washer woman singing outside the room's window. He takes note of the fact that the love song she is singing has taken a stronger hold on the proles than the hate song created for Hate Week. Typically upon waking, Winston would be hurrying to dress and return to the Mansion before his absence was noticed. Today, though, he is slow to move and barely even takes note of the time. When Julia awakens, her first instinct is to make a pot of coffee. She takes little notice of the time as well. Their behavior speaks to the cultivated yet false sense of normalcy and security of their relationship. Despite the obvious signs that something is wrong (the empty oilstove, the sudden cold in the room, and the absence of the sun) Julia and Winston stand in front of the window as if they are a couple sharing a country sunrise on their veranda.

While watching the woman hang her clothes, Winston's mind wanders to her probable fertility and the size of her family. He appreciates the physical and spiritual beauty of the matronly woman with virtual envy. He realizes that he and Julia will never create a bevy of progeny as this woman most likely has. Their gift to the future is their own lives rather than new born lives. The lack of sunshine and the cold air in the room accentuate this melancholy feeling of sacrifice and unfulfilled dreams. However, the two lovers accept their fate and proclaim it aloud with the statement We are the dead , a fact to which Julia had not reconciled herself earlier in the text. In storm the Thought Police immediately following this singular meditative moment between the two lovers.

The deliberate shattering of the glass paperweight works on two levels; first, the beauty of this moment as well as the beauty of his love for Julia is violently and needlessly shattered like the paperweight and second, Winston's connections to the past and his hope for the future are proven futile. These hopes and dreams of Winston's were just as fragile as the paperweight. Oddly, reality sets in when Mr. Charrington reveals his true identity as a member of the Thought Police. Yet, this incessant deception is the reality from which Julia and Winston naively sought escape. Orwell emphasizes this realization with Winston's returned passivity. He does nothing, just as he would have done the day they met in the corridor, when the Thought Police strike her in the stomach.

The third part of 1984 opens with a long and disquieting introduction to the torture Winston will endure. Like a stop action film, Orwell describes the activity in the cell as the hours pass. This has the effect of prolonging the waiting period which in turn increases tension for the reader. The tension is enhanced by the various prisoners moving in and out of the cell. There is a physical and behavioral difference between what Winston considers to be ordinary criminals and political prisoners. The ordinary criminals are rather brash in their behavior towards the guards whereas the political prisoners visibly show their anxiety over the arrest.

Again, Orwell is making a comment about the level of navete prevalent among Party members. Although the political prisoners have each worked in a role that supports the Party's use of doublethink against its citizens, they still continue to believe that absolution is possible. Parsons is perfect example of this. He believes that by confessing all they ask him to confess (true or untrue), he will be free to return to his everyday life. Winston, on the other hand, remembers the example Aaronson, Rutherford, and Jones set ten years ago. He also remembers the information O'Brienshared with him during their first meeting. Unfortunately, Winston's savvy does not extend much further. He still awaits the razor blade O'Brien promised him should he be arrested. It has not occurred to Winston that O'Brien is a double agent working for the Thought Police or that he is the Thought Police. The reader should question the extent to which Winston allowed himself to know that O'Brien is a double agent. Both their first and second meetings were wrought with clues telling Winston he shouldn't trust O'Brien. He felt that he was heading for disaster after receiving the initial invitation to O'Brien's house. Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the novel, his desire for an underground rebellion to exist was at such an extreme level he had no other choice but to exercise a degree of doublethink and follow the path he knew would kill him.

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