Book 1 Chapter 7

In Chapter 7, Winston writes of his hope that the proles (the working class), will later rebel and change society. He believes that the Party cannot be destroyed from within and that even the Brotherhood (a revolutionary group), lacks the wherewithal to defeat the mighty Thought Police. Due to their majority (as Proles make up eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania), Winston is sure that, if the proles understood the situation, they could overturn the Party.

Winston looks through a children’s history book to get understand what the past was like. The Party claims to have built ideal cities successfully, which Winston (who lives in London), knows this isn’t true. Winston remembers an occasion when he caught the Party in a lie. In the mid-1960s, a cultural backlash caused the original leaders of the Revolution to be arrested. He recalls sitting in a café next to three men who were later arrested and executed as enemies of the party. Winston remembers a photograph of these men was placed on his desk, proving that they were once in the Party, at the time of their supposed treason, they were at a Party function in New York, which Winston concludes, is proof that the men were forced to confess to false crimes as they were allegedly committing treason in Eurasia. Winston realises he cannot retrieve the photograph as he threw it into the memory hole for fear that this bit of real history and his effort to remember history as it actually happened would betray him as a thought-criminal.

Winston realises that he is writing the diary for O’Brien, the only person he believes to be on his side. He finishes this diary entry with the line ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.’ Thinking about the Party’s control of every record of the truth, Winston realises that the Party requires its members to deny the evidence of their eyes and ears.

Plot Summary

1984 is a dystopian novella by George Orwell published in 1949, which takes place in 1984. The Novella explores the ideas of a totalitarian state controlling every aspect of life, even people’s thoughts. The state is called Oceania and is ruled by a group known as the Party; its leader and dictator is Big Brother.

The Novella follows the life of Winston Smith, the central character, is a thirty-nine-year-old man living in London. He is a low-ranking member of ‘the Party’, who is frustrated by the omnipresent eyes of the party, and its ominous ruler Big Brother. He secretly hates the Party and decides to rebel by starting a diary in which he reveals his rebellious thoughts and plans. By owning a diary, Winston commits thoughtcrime and knows that one day he will be discovered by the Thought Police and potentially killed.

Winston is fascinated by the lives of ‘proles’ (the lowest class in the social hierarchy of Oceania). They are the only group allowed to live pretty much as they like without heavy police surveillance. He later befriends a prole, Mr. Charrington (the Owner of shop in the prole district), who shares his interest in the past and life before the rule of Big Brother.

Whilst at work, Winston is approached by a woman who works in another department, she pretends to fall, as a result he helps her up. As he does this, she slips a piece of paper into his hand. It says, ‘I love you.’ Winston is surprised and disturbed by this; any sexual relationship between Party members is strictly forbidden. However, it’s something he’d never seen before, which as a result leaves him intrigued. They later agree to secretly meet in the country, only in places that aren’t under surveillance. He begins a love affair with the woman, who we later learn is called Julia. Winston and Julia eventually rent the room above Mr. Charrington’s junkshop as a long-term private place for the two of them.

A member of the Inner Party, known as ‘O’Brien’, finds an excuse to give Winston his home address, an unusual event. Winston, whilst being quite taken back is overjoyed, as he’d always believed O’Brien may not be like the other members of the party and might share his hatred of the Party. Winston and Julia secretly travel to see O’Brien and he enlists them into the Brotherhood (a secret organisation dedicated to fighting Big Brother). He arranges to give Winston a copy of “The Book,” a document that contains the truth about Big Brother and the development of the super-states. Winston and Julia rush to their room above the junkshop to read the book, hoping to finally confirm their suspicions. Only for the Thought Police burst in to arrest them. They then learn that Mr. Charrington is a Thought Police agent. They are therefore separately taken to the Ministry of Love. There, Winston learns that O’Brien is in fact an orthodox government agent and has deliberately tricked him. O’Brien takes charge of the process of “re-integrating” Winston, by torturing and brainwashing him until he fully believes in the Party and it’s viewpoints. As the final step of this process, Winston is forced to betray his love for Julia, and his feelings for her are destroyed.

Winston is released after all of his torturing, only to live out his final days as a broken man. Soon, the Thought Police will execute him for his crime, the Novella ends with Winston having submitted completely, as he even loves Big Brother.

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