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

Winston wakes to a cold stove and to the prole woman singing in the courtyard. Julia joins him at the window and together they stare down at her. "It had never before occurred to him that the body of a woman of fifty... coarse in the grain like an overripe turnip, could be beautiful." Now it does. He slips his arm around Julia's slim waist, and laments that they will never have a child. The woman down there may have no mind, he thinks, but she has "strong arms, a warm heart, and a fertile belly." He imagines the woman bearing children, grandchildren, in a sort of "mystical reverence" that extends to the sky and all the people under it. He concludes that the future belongs to the proles, and thinks this must be Goldstein's secret. Winston believes that the proles are immortal and that in the end they will awake and build a new society. But even in this mystical reverie, he seems somewhat condescending to the lower orders. "Out of those mighty loins a race of conscious beings must one day come," he says. "You were the dead; theirs was the future."

"We are the dead," say both Winston and Julia. And then a third voice knifes into the room, saying, "You are the dead." This is the voice of doom Winston foresaw when he started the diary.


The telescreen was behind the picture of St. Clement's Dane that Winston was so fond of, and that Julia had wanted to take down and give a good cleaning. The print crashes from the wall and Winston thinks: "It was starting, it was starting at last!" He seems excited. Outside is the tramping of boots. A thin, cultivated voice Winston thinks he recognizes completes the old nursery rhyme: Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

A ladder crashes through the window and troops enter, uniformed in black, wearing iron-shod boots and carrying clubs. They look very much like Hitler's storm troopers. As they threaten Winston, one of them smashes the paperweight, and the bit of coral at the center tumbles out. How small, Winston thinks, how small it always was! The world of the paperweight, which was the world of the past where everything was beautiful and where Winston imagined he was safe, is shattered.

Winston is kicked; Julia is beaten and carried away, her face already yellow and contorted. Winston is confused by the old- fashioned clock; because it's numbered one to twelve, he doesn't know whether it's "twenty-thirty" that afternoon or "nought eight-thirty" the next morning. The past has ceased to be of use to him.

Mr. Charrington now appears; it was his voice that completed the nursery rhyme. He's no longer dear old Mr. Charrington; he has shed his disguise and revealed himself as a member of the Thought Police.

NOTE:

The purpose and effectiveness of the long extract from Goldstein's book at this crucial point in the novel is going to be debated as long as 1984 is read. Now is a good time to pinpoint your own responses to it. Many of you will defend it hotly; others will argue, with justification, that it breaks the back of the novel. Ask yourselves, did you:

1. Have an easy or a hard time following it?

2. Think it was the right length, or too long?

3. Need the political background to understand conditions in the novel?

4. Consider it an isolated sermon, or an essential part of the novel?

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