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SHORT PLOT/CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)
The novel 1984 is a story about Winston Smith, a member of the Party that is ruling over the state of Oceania. The Party rules under the dictatorship of Big Brother.
Winston is shown to be leading a lonely life in what used to be known as London before the Party came to power following a revolution. Moreover, the society created by the Party is based upon hatred, suspicion, and fear; it lacks all the finer emotions like love, trust, and friendship.
There are strict rules laid down for Party members, and members of the opposite sex cannot meet freely. All movements and activities of the members are under constant surveillance through telescreens. Neighbors and children are taught to keep an eye on others and report on what they observe.
Winston, who is an intelligent and sensitive person, begins to hate everything the Party stands for; but he knows he cannot openly express his feelings, for questioning the Party means death. As a result, Winston leads a double life, privately abhorring everything the Party says or does, while publicly putting on a facade of loyalty and enthusiasm towards the ideas of the Party.
Winston meets Julia, who is also a Party member. She is working in the Fiction department at the Ministry of Truth, where Winston is working in the Records department. They fall in love and meet away from the prying eyes of the microphones, telescreens, and patrols.
Young Julia gives the lonely Winston a purpose for living and an ally. Since she also hates the restrictions and controls of the Party, they discuss ways of overthrowing Big Brother. Both of them are aware of the secret organization known as the Brotherhood, whose head is Goldstein; he is the chief enemy of the ruling Party. Winston and Julia think of joining the Brotherhood, but do not know how to go about it. They meet with O'Brien at his flat, where he tells them about the Brotherhood.
The Thought Police soon catch Julia and Winston together. Arrested and sent separately to the Ministry of Love, they are made to confess their sins and mistakes. Here, Winston meets O'Brien, who reveals his true identity. O'Brien tortures and punishes Winston until he agrees to accept the ideas of the Party unquestioningly.
After nearly one year of solitary confinement, Winston is released. Before he is allowed to leave, O'Brien warns Winston that the Party will kill him whenever it thinks it is appropriate. Once released, Winston is no longer allowed to work in the Ministry of Truth's Records department. Instead, he is given a job as part of the subcommittee of a subcommittee appointed to study and prepare an interview report on some minor problems faced in the preparation of the eleventh edition of the 'Newspeak' (the new language) dictionary. Winston spends any spare time at the Chestnut Tree Cafe, the chief haunt of all rebels.
The end comes unexpectedly when Winston is listening to the news of Oceania's victory over Africa. Amidst the cheers and screams of the crowd, Winston is shot with a thought bullet as he is sitting at the Chestnut Tree Cafe. As he dies, he has a feeling of reverence for Big Brother.
Note: Others interpret the events in the final chapter as a dream in which Winston comes to peace with Big Brother and finally learns to love Big Brother. In that interpretation, Winston does not literally die and the ending is a dream. The bullet is imaginary. That said, your interpretation may differ. In reading the original text, it is not specifically clear.