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Barron's Booknotes-1984 by George Orwell-Free Book Notes
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In a long speech O'Brien explains that the Party has no room for martyrs. The Inquisition in the Middle Ages was a failure because it killed its enemies publicly. Resistance brought glory to the victims. O'Brien points out that the Nazis and the Russian Communists were more cruel and efficient than the Inquisitors because they knew martyrs only perpetuated a cause.

The Nazis and the Soviets did their best to discredit their victims before they came to trial. Yet these victims still became martyrs in time when the public realized that confessions were made under torture. As for confessions made to the Party? "We make them true," says O'Brien. The future will not make a martyr of Winston because the future will never hear of him. He will become an unperson.

Why then does the Party bother to interrogate him? Because, O'Brien explain, he's a flaw in the pattern-something that has to be erased. First they will convert him to their beliefs, make him one of them. They will wash him clean of rebellion and they will dispose of him only after his mind is clean. He will be dead inside, so completely destroyed that he could not recover in a thousand years. "We shall squeeze you empty and fill you with ourselves."

At a signal from O'Brien, Winston is attached to a new instrument O'Brien says isn't going to hurt. A devastating explosion fills his head instead: a blinding light that flattens him and seems to take a large piece out of his brain.

NOTE:

In the 1940s, when Orwell was writing, mental patients were given "shock treatments" in which they were zapped with electricity to alter mental states; Orwell may have had this in mind.


When O'Brien asks Winston what country Oceania is at war with, what happened to Jones, etc., and how many fingers he is holding up, Winston says what O'Brien wants him to say and sees what O'Brien wants him to see. He even sees five fingers instead of four.

O'Brien is pleased that Winston is coming along, and praises him. Winston's mind appeals to him; he enjoys talking to him because they are alike except, of course, that Winston is insane. Does Winston have any questions?

Yes. He wants to know about Julia.

She betrayed you at once-wholeheartedly, O'Brien says. All her rebelliousness, her folly, and "her dirty-mindedness" have been burned out of her.

Winston next wants to know if Big Brother exists, even as he, Winston, exists. O'Brien points out coldly that Winston does not exist. What about the Brotherhood? O'Brien tells him that's a riddle that will forever remain unsolved. What's in Room 101? O'Brien tells him that he already knows-everybody knows what's in Room 101- and then he puts Winston to sleep.

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