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

Winston has taken a drastic step. He has rented the room above Mr. Charrington's shop so he and Julia will have a place to be alone together. On the gateleg table in the corner is the glass paperweight. In fact, a vision of the paperweight on Mr. Charrington's table is what inspired him to risk capture by renting the room.

Outside, somebody is singing. It is "a monstrous woman, solid as a pillar, with brawny red forearms." She is hanging up diapers and singing aloud, something no Party member would ever do. Keep an eye on this woman, as she is central to Winston's story and carries one conscious message from the author as well as-perhaps-an unconscious one. We'll come to her later.

Overworked as the city prepares for Hate Week, Winston and Julia have had to put off meeting because she is having her period. He is surprised now by how angry this makes him. Their first act of love was, for him, an intellectual gesture, but now he finds he wants and needs her, and wishes they had the leisure to be like an old married couple, walking out together, able to be alone together "without feeling the obligation to make love every time they met." It is for this reason that he has rented the room.

This section portrays Winston as much more of a romantic lover than he seemed in his first encounter with Julia, but he is still a fatalist, thinking: "It was as though they were intentionally stepping nearer to their graves." This seems to make something of a star-crossed lover of him; in other words he is in love precisely because the love is doomed.

Julia enters, with packets of sugar, real coffee, and real bread, luxury items usually reserved for Inner Party members. She has brought something else. She tells him to turn his back. Once again he sees the red-armed woman in the courtyard and thinks she would be happy to go on like that forever, singing and hanging up the wash.


When he turns around, he's delighted because Julia has put on makeup. He has never seen a Party woman with a painted face. She looks not only prettier, but "far more feminine." But when he takes her in his arms, he notices that she's wearing the same perfume as his last prostitute.

Most of Winston's thoughts, however, are romantic. He lets Julia see him naked for the first time. They sleep in the double bed as light from the sunset slants into the room, and, waking, Winston wonders whether in the old days couples always had the leisure to dawdle in bed after making love.

His reverie is shattered by the appearance of a rat. Winston shudders with horror because he is assailed by memories of a recurring nightmare. In his dream, he is standing in front of a wall of darkness, looking out on something too dreadful to be faced. It has something to do with rats, he thinks. Remember the dream. It's important in Part Three.

Julia reassures him and then gets up to tour the room, investigating the shabby antiques with some amusement, and bringing the paperweight back to the bed. Winston calls the paperweight a "little chunk of history that they've forgotten to alter. It's a message from a hundred years ago...." When she looks at the picture of St. Clement's, Winston recites the first two lines of the old verse and Julia fills in the next two: "You owe me three farthings, say the bells of St. Martin's, When will you pay me? say the bells of Old Bailey...."

Julia may not know the next two lines but she remembers the end: "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"

After Julia leaves, Winston gazes into the glass paperweight. He imagines the glass as the arch of the sky, a whole world containing himself and this room full of antiques: "The paperweight was the room he was in, and the coral was Julia's life and his own, fixed in a sort of eternity at the heart of the crystal."

NOTE:

Here, as elsewhere in 1984, Orwell uses objects-an antique table, an antique clock, a print of the church of St. Clement's Dane-to create atmosphere and to give the reader a strong sense of place. Through Winston's response to these objects, we get a clear picture of Winston's love for the past. All novelists use details to bring us into rooms we've never seen; many, like Orwell, use physical objects to stand for much more than their face value. The paperweight, as we saw after Julia left, a symbol of the past. Keep an eye on that picture of the church, which Julia offered to take down and clean. It also reminds Winston of the past, and of the old verse, but it has one last function to perform.

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