Questions for Study with Ideas for Answers
Q: The novel has three climactic events. What are they, and what do they signify?
Ideas: 1. Love in the woods.
This idyllic scene symbolizes Julia and Winston’s freedom from the party. This physically erotic episode is the only time when the couple is totally free of the imposing society of Oceania. Not only are they free, but also the reader is able to escape from the gloom of the book. It is an act of rebellion against the Party because all citizens are supposed to love Big Brother only, and not one another. It marks what has been lost by the citizens, because of the control inflicted on them by Big Brother.
2. Winston and Julia’s capture by the Thought Police.
Orwell carefully and skillfully dramatizes this episode providing the reader with a mixture of horror and apprehension. It symbolizes the end of the couple and the slow, separate, rehabilitation of Winston and Julia, who will both accept Big Brother in the end while at the same time, betraying each other. Their secret, happy life is smashed forever just as the paperweight was by a member of the Thought Police.
Part 3 of the novel gives the reader a slow and relentless feeling of tension, which culminates in finding out what is in Room 101. This is where Winston faces his final terror, which in his case are rats. He is unable to face this fear and begs that Julia should face it instead. The chain of events that have led to this point horrifies the reader, and this is partly due to Orwell’s descriptive writing. Winston’s betrayal signifies the final degradation of man. Nothing else matters to him now, but his love for Big Brother.
Q: The aim of the Party is to acquire pure power and to keep
hold of it. How is this achieved?
Ideas: The Party has control over its citizens. Their everyday life is
monitored. Every action they make is observed and must be according to the Party rules.
By controlling the past, the Party controls the present.
They write and re-write history in order for it to suit the present. They make predictions about the future and if these turn out wrong, they go back and adjust them accordingly.
The only information the citizens receive is via the telescreens.
The only view they have is that given to them by the Party. The party uses propaganda techniques to brainwash its citizens and to instill hatred in them for their common enemy. Prisoners of war are given no rights. They are blamed for the ills of Oceania and are publicly hanged.
In order for the Party to retain power, they are introducing a new language
called Newspeak. This will slowly eradicate all counterproductive words and rebellious notions so that in the future it will be impossible to have subversive thoughts.
Winston knows he is changing history, but he needs to retain his sanity by keeping hold of real pieces of the past that have not been corrupted. Give examples.
Ideas: *The photograph and news article regarding Jones, Aaronson and
Rutherford proves their innocence and is rare in that it gives a real account of what happened at that particular time in the past.
*The paperweight, which cannot now be made in the present, but is a reminder
of the past, and what earlier generations were capable of represents Winston and Julia’s private world.
*Winston sometimes mingles with the proles, and is particularly interested
in older people, and he tries to obtain eyewitness accounts of the past from them, such as the Oranges and Lemons rhyme.
*The diary again is an artifact from the past in which Winston intends to
write regarding the truth of the present day, perhaps for future generations. It is ironic that this and the paperweight have come from a member of the Thought Police. Although they can change thoughts
and words, it is harder for them to change ‘things’.
Q: What has made this novel universally popular?
Ideas: *it has been a source of great debate since it was first published.
Is the world of 1984 possible? This is probably the main attraction of the book.
*We see glimpses of Oceania in other societies, such as Communist Russia,
Nazi Germany, China and more recently, North Korea. This gives authenticity to Orwell’s view of the future.
*Orwell provides an insight into the human psyche and the reader can
identify both with the sufferings of Winston, and also with the brutality of O’Brien and what he stands for.
*Orwell’s book today is still relevant and it is amazing how accurate some
of his predictions are, particularly concerning the politics of the world today. There is a move from a world of small countries to larger economic groupings such as the Americas, Europe and the Far East.
No doubt, these alliances will grow in the future.