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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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3. Is the real love affair in Winston's mind, and is it with O'Brien? O'Brien is on Winston's mind in Part One, Section I. Winston dreams about him in One, Section II, when O'Brien says, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness." In Three, I, this dream is fulfilled in an astonishing way. Does O'Brien stand for hope or for the fulfillment of Winston's death wish? Does he seek him out precisely to bring about his capture? Look at Part Three, Sections I, II, III and IV, where Winston is captured and brainwashed. He doesn't hate or resist O'Brien. Instead the two minds are locked in a bizarre courtship. Winston respects his destroyer as he never respects Julia.

4. Winston's ideas about class lines tell us something about his values, and Orwell's.

a. Winston despises his middle-class neighbors, the Parsons. He bitterly resents and envies the lower classes because they are vital, physical and mindlessly happy. They are also slightly gross to him-particularly the huge woman with the laundry. He sees the underclass as the hope for the future, yet recognizes that they have neither the brains nor the means to start a revolution. What's more, he doesn't like them well enough to join them, or even enough to disappear among them. Why doesn't he run away to the ghetto? BECAUSE HE IS NOT LIKE THEM.

b. O'Brien is his ideal, even after O'Brien starts brainwashing Winston. O'Brien is a member of the Inner Party, polished and sophisticated, and so high up in the organization that he enjoys a handsome, comfortable apartment and a servant. Does this reflect some hidden attitude of Orwell's that conflicts with his role as defender of the masses?

5. Nostalgia for the past is central to Winston's rebellion. He alone seems to remember that there was life before the Party; to remember the now vanished rural landscape, to pine for the mother he betrayed. The antique diary he buys; the old- fashioned paperweight that is central to the story; his recurring dreams and memories-all make him different. Is Winston really trying to design a new future, or does he want to get back into the past, where it's safe?


6. Some people think Winston is really George Orwell dressed up in a blue Party uniform. He seems to have some of Orwell's ailments, and many of the same worries, and he lives an active inner life as Orwell did at St. Cyprian's. On the other hand, Winston finally crumples under pressure from the Party, whereas Orwell fought illness to finish his stunning novel. Do you think Winston is really only an extension of Orwell, or is he a full-blown character living a life of his own, in order that he can carry Orwell's warning about the dangers of totalitarianism to the public? You can argue either way.

Winston, as a character, is complex and troublesome because the author has used words to create a living, breathing person. Perhaps the most important question you'll decide for yourself is: Does this man deserve what happens to him? Could he have escaped if he had tried hard enough? Did he or did he not get what he wanted? Again, it's your decision.

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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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