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

In the canteen, Winston lines up for lunch along with Syme, who works in the Research Department. Syme, a specialist in Newspeak, is preparing the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak dictionary. He is tiny, sad, and too smart for his own good.

The food is vile, improved only slightly by the addition of Victory gin, the swill the Party provides, along with Victory Coffee and Victory Cigarettes, names echoing second-rate "Victory" products available in London after World War II, when conditions made it impossible for people to obtain anything better.

Winston prompts Syme to talk about the Eleventh Edition, which he does, saying gleefully that he is busy destroying thousands of words, along with the works of Shakespeare, Milton and others. This gives Orwell an opportunity to incorporate some of his political thinking into the text, although as a novelist he knows better than to drop it in whole. He dresses it up by pretending it's a dramatic conversation, weaving in Syme's manner and Winston's responses along with details about the setting. When he's finished, he still has a lot more to say hence the awkward Appendix elaborating on Newspeak.

Syme says, "Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make Thoughtcrime impossible because there will be no words in which to express it."

One of these days, Winston thinks, Syme is going to be vaporized. Syme points to a couple spouting Party jargon and introduces a new word: duckspeak. "Applied to an opponent, it is abuse; applied to someone you agree with, it is praise." He is clearly too intelligent and outgoing to survive in the Party.

In comes Parsons, a completely different kind of Party member. Pudgy and zealous, Parsons is collecting money for the neighborhood Hate Week; he can't wait to start decorating. He apologizes for his kids' harassing Winston, but he's clearly proud of their Party fervor.


All hands listen to a joyful announcement from the Ministry of Plenty that the chocolate ration has been raised-from thirty grams to twenty. How can people swallow this? It's either grin or be vaporized. It makes as much sense to Winston as the contrast between the ill-fed, funny-looking Party members and the Party ideal of handsome blonde stereotypes (not unlike Hitler's "ideal" Aryans).

Uncertain about how many of his rebellious thoughts show in his expression and gestures, Winston breaks into a sweat when he discovers he's being watched. The dark-haired girl whom he fears is a state spy sits at the next table.

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