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Winston is imprisoned in Room 101 of the Ministry of Love, where he is made to experience the thing he thinks is most terrifying. For Winston, the most horrifying thing is rats; therefore, he is strapped to a chair in Room 101 and shown some huge, carnivorous rats in a nearby cage. With just a push of a lever, the cage door will open and the rats will be on him. Winston is so scared of the huge, hairy rodents just two meters away from him that he loses consciousness. When he regains his senses, the sight of the rats and the shrill screams from somewhere above make him scream in fright. He yells, "Do it to Julia, please .....not me," for he knows that Julia is not scared of rats at all. The fear of rats makes Winston betray his beloved Julia.
O'Brien has been eagerly awaiting the moment when he sees that Winston's spirit is broken. Before going to Room 101, Winston still had feelings for Julia; he had not totally accepted the Party, even though he verbally acknowledged the tenets of the Party. Finally, the cruel punishment of the rats has crushed Winston totally, to the point of insanity. He is a beaten man when he is released from Room 101.
The description of the rats in the cage is so graphic that, like Winston, the reader is made to feel horror; the reader also pulls for the protagonist to be quickly released from the torturous room. Unfortunately, the only way for him to emerge is as a defeated man, totally manipulated by the Party. Orwell, through his masterful prose, has totally involved the reader in Winston's story.
In this chapter, more information about the party and O'Brien is presented. The fact that O'Brien is aware of Winston's worst fear reveals the inner working of the party. Big Brother is watching each member so closely that he is aware of each person's strengths, weaknesses, hopes, fears, habits, and activities. There is truly no personal freedom left.
When Winston enters Room 101, he still has the last vestiges of personal thoughts and feelings. O'Brien is determined to leave him in the room with the rats until has truly accepted the Party and denied his own individuality. When he betrays Julia and seems to lose his sanity, O'Brien is confident that Winston is now totally defeated. As a result, Winston is allowed to leave the torture chamber known as Room 101.