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

Syme has become an unperson; it happened overnight. In the summer heat, with the city wheels grinding around the clock in preparation for Hate Week, Winston hardly notices. Proles and the Parsons children alike are singing and playing a new ditty drummed up for the occasion, "Hate Song." The senior Parsons is hanging banners and streamers in the heat, in preparation for the event.

Even the proles are fired up, by the weather, by an increase in flights of rocket bombs, and by a huge poster of a Eurasian soldier that appears everywhere, inspiring hate. Winston retreats with Julia to the room above Mr. Charrington's-the two lovers are sweltering and pestered by bugs, but content.

The affair has been good for Winston, who has given up gin and begun to put on a little weight. He's cheered by the knowledge that the room is available, even when he can't get to it. The room to him is a world, a pocket of the past, where extinct animals can talk. Everything he cares about is here.

One of Winston's extinct animals is Mr. Charrington, who produces memories in the same way that he produces antiques to charm Winston.

In this section we see Winston and Julia as star-crossed lovers once more. Even Julia knows their happiness can't last long and this inspires them to "despairing sensuality," which makes the affair seem sweeter. Until now, you could have argued that Winston was a sexist who used Julia as a weapon in his private revolution. But during this interlude he gives signals that his love has come to mean more.

Winston begins to have fantasies: that their affair can last; that he can escape with Julia into the world of the paperweight, where time stops; that Katharine will die so they can marry; that they can commit suicide; that they can change their identities and live among the proles.


"In reality"- writes Orwell-"there was no escape." Why not? Julia knew her way around-why couldn't she and Winston disappear from view and live a happy life among the proles? There was no reason why Orwell couldn't have arranged for them to be caught, later in order to satisfy the purpose of his novel.

There are two possible reasons why the lovers don't try to escape:

1. By the time Orwell finished his first draft of the novel and began a second one, he was ailing. Perhaps he lacked the physical strength to add additional chapters to his book.

2. Perhaps Orwell, like Winston, was a slave to his class.

Even when the author was living among the coal miners and their families, he was not one of them. He was revolted by unpleasant sights and smells. Neither he nor Winston would be comfortable living among such people; it would have been out of the question.

Instead of plotting their escape, Winston and Julia begin to talk about rebellion-finding their way into the secret Brotherhood. He tells her about the "strange intimacy" he feels with the sophisticated Inner Party member O'Brien, even though they have never met.

We begin to hear about Julia's political attitudes. She can't believe that there will ever be widespread opposition to the Party. She assumes, however, that everybody like herself, rebels privately. She believes that stories about Emmanuel Goldstein and the war in Eurasia are Party inventions designed to keep people in line.

Although Julia believes in love, she knows that the Party is an unalterable fact of life and that "You could only rebel against it by secret disobedience or, at most, by isolated acts of violence such as killing somebody or blowing something up." Her own particular rebellion is sexual.

It's Julia who suggests that the government has invented the war and arranges for the rocket bomb to fall to keep everybody on their toes. At the same time she buys the Party myths "because the difference between truth and falsehood did not seem important to her."

Is she a featherbrain or a realist? Orwell and Winston seem to want to see her both ways. Julia makes some profound observations about politics, yet when Winston tells her about the picture he saw of Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford and how it proved the Party lied, she is indifferent, telling him: "I'm not interested in the next generation, dear. I'm interested in us." And when he calls her "a rebel from the waist downwards," she hugs him in wild delight.

Do Winston and his creator respect this woman? In some lights, yes. In some, no. They admire her cheerful realism, may even envy it, but Winston undercuts this by thinking: "In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it.... By lack of understanding they remained sane."

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