We obtain further details concerning Winston’s work.
He sits in a small cubicle containing a small pneumatic tube down which comes messages concerning amendments required to newspaper articles. Once he has made the necessary amendments, the messages and the original article are destroyed. These items are deposited through what is called a memory hole, which leads to an incinerator. His cubicle also contains a telescreen, which he uses to call up the back numbers of newspaper articles so that they can be amended. It is not just newspaper articles that are amended, but books, periodicals, posters, leaflets, films, photographs etc.
Sometimes Winston was involved in adjusting figures that had been published
by the Ministry of Plenty, but he had no conscience about doing this because all he was doing was substituting ‘one piece of nonsense for another’.
For example, it didn’t matter whether the Ministry of Plenty produced 45 million pairs of boots, or 62 million pairs of boots - it was very likely no boots had been produced at all.
Across from Winston in another cubicle worked Tillotson.
He knew very little about him and certainly did not know what he was employed on.
Towards the end of the day, Winston got an important item of work (forgery),
and clearly others would be working on this problem as well. This concerned a Comrade Withers, who was a prominent member of the Inner Party, decorated and now for no apparent reason, was in disgrace.
Winston’s task was to rectify this embarrassment. Winston came up with an original idea. Why not delete Withers altogether?
Make him an ‘unperson’ and in his place put somebody totally fictitious, Comrade Ogilvie. This could be done with fake photographs and faked articles, but Winston would fall short of giving Comrade Ogilvie any decorations, because this would mean too many cross-references. He had to submit his plan to his superior for approval. He glanced over at Tillitson and Winston suspected he was busy on the same job. Winston was sure his report would be accepted, because his Comrade Ogilvie would be like Charlemagne or Julius Caesar.
Through Winston’s work, we see how the Party is in the
act of abolishing the past by carefully altering facts to suit the present. What confuses Winston in this task is that he retains memories of the distant past, which do not agree with the facts portrayed by
the Party. He recalls that the enemy to Oceania has changed from Eastasia to Eurasia, although the Party maintains that Eurasia has always been the enemy.
Winston is concerned that the Party can just remove events in history.
He, therefore, decides to play them at their own game, and that is why he invents Comrade Ogilvie.