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In Chapter 3, Winston is asleep, dreaming about his mother. He sees his mother and a baby sister sinking into a dark hole, probably a well. They are looking up at him while he stands there watching. Winston's mother had disappeared when he was just 10 or 11 years old, but he has often dreamed of her. Next he dreams about a dark-haired girl in a beautiful countryside. In the dream, the dark-haired girl from his office throws her clothes aside and walks towards him. Her nakedness does not evoke any desire in him. Instead, what overwhelms him is the gesture. By her taking off her clothes, the girl seems to have destroyed the authority and control of the party. His dream is interrupted by the shrill whistle from the telescreen. It is the alarm to wake all office workers, which is sounded at 7:15 a.m. everyday. Winston drags himself out of his bed, totally naked, since he cannot afford pajamas. Each member of the Party receives only 3,000 coupons annually for clothes; a suit of pajamas costs 600 coupons. Winston can do without them.
Winston is in a bad shape physically, suffering from vericose ulcer. Each morning he wakes up with a violent coughing fit. This morning is no different, and for a few minutes, he is doubled up on his bed, coughing till he grasps for breath.
The telescreen calls everyone between the ages of 30 and 40 to get ready for the daily exercise workout. Winston is forced to get out of bed and join the exercise. Dressed in shorts and singlet, he wears an expression of grim enjoyment on his face, despite the pain in his chest.
During the 'physical jerks,' he thinks about Oceania's current war with Eurasia. The party says that Eurasia has never been an ally of Oceania, but Winston recalls that about four years ago, Eurasia was, indeed, recognized as an ally. He also realizes that he is probably one of the only ones who remember the fact, for everybody is expected to accept whatever the party says or claims and forget everything else. It is also impossible to prove history since all written records are altered to the Party's liking.
In this chapter, more is learned about the protagonist. Winston suffers from vericose ulcer, a condition that often makes him feel terrible and gasp for breath. His mother disappeared when he was a young boy of 10 or 11, but he still dreams about her. It is a recurring nightmare that disturbs Winston again later in the story. After he has the dream, Winston always feels that he is in some way responsible for her death.
Winston also dreams about a nameless girl in his office, who sheds her clothes in the dream, in defiance of the government. Winston is subconsciously searching for a female companion who will dare to defy the Party with him. Ironically, the girl in his dreams is Julia, his lover later in the novel. Their companionship and lovemaking will be in direct defiance of government orders. It is important to note that at this point in the novel, Winston believes that his nameless worker is in reality a member of the Thought Police. Obviously, he judges her incorrectly, just as he judged O'Brien incorrectly in the earlier chapter. In this totalitarian state, one can never know or trust the surrounding people.
The depth of control of the government is also depicted in this chapter. The Ruling Party rations the necessities of life, and they establish prices as well. Winston, like other Party workers, receives only 3000 coupons per year for clothing, and a pair of pajamas costs 600 coupons, or 1/5 of the year's clothing allowance. Each morning at 7:15 the telescreen screeches a whistle to wake all government workers. After quickly emerging from bed, they must participate in an exercise program directed by Big Brother via the telescreen. Everyone is expected to put on a show of pretending to enjoy the daily workout; if a person refuses to smile, the thought police will grow suspicious of him. After the grueling exercise program, the workers must go to the job prescribed by the government. Winston's job at the Ministry of Truth involves altering recorded history and government documents as Big Brother directs.