Book 1 Chapter 8

Winston Smith goes for a walk through one of the prole neighbourhoods. A bomb falls nearby, a (he calmly explains this is a common occurrence, but Winston isn’t affected and continues walking, but not before he kicks a severed prole hand into the gutter. He enters a pub where he sees an old man, who Winston views as a possible link to the past. He asks the old man questions and tries to understand in the days before the Party, people were really exploited by bloated capitalists, as the Party records claim. The old man’s memory is too vague to provide an answer. Winston explains that the past has been left to the proles intentionally as they will inevitably forget it.

Winston later returns to the little antique shop where he purchased the diary. He talks for a while with the shop’s owner, Mr. Charrington, who sells him an antique clear glass paperweight with a pink coral centre. He shows him an upstairs room, Winston is shocked that the room has no telescreen. Mr. Charrington also shows Winston a drawing of a church (St. Clement’s Church) that he recognises as a museum downtown and teaches him the beginning of a nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s / You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St. Martin’s.’

On his way home Winston sees the dark-haired girl from the fiction department. He is sure that she is following him, and he imagines smashing her in the head with a cobblestone or the paperweight he has just purchased. He is petrified, as he remembers again the dream in which O’Brien said to him, ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness’, he debates whether he will be detected as a thought-criminal. Troubled, he takes a coin from his pocket and looks into the face of Big Brother. This chapter and Part 1 end with the repetition of Party’s three slogans ‘WAR IS PEACE,’ ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,’ ‘IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.’

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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