1984 By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 2

Summary

The knock at the door is Winston's neighbor, Mrs. Parsons, who asks him to unclog her sink because her husband, Tom Parsons, who works with Winston in the Ministry of Truth, is not home. Winston Smith obliges her and is accosted by her children, who call him a traitor, a thought criminal, and finally, Goldstein.

Winston returns home to continue the diary and again thinks of O'Brien. Winston recalls a dream seven years earlier in which a voice said to him, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness." He now believes this voice to be that of O'Brien's and is certain that, in some way or another, the prophecy of the dream will come to pass.

Back at the diary, Winston finally realizes who the audience is for his diary. He also realizes the inevitability of his death at the hands of the Thought Police.

Analysis

Winston's dream foreshadows what will take place later on in the book. The use of the phrase, "a place where there is no darkness," another recurring image in the novel, takes an ironic twist when this premonition of Winston's does not turn out as he expects. Winton attributes this phrase to O'Brien, a member of the Inner Party, who, later in the novel, meets Winston "in a place where there is no darkness" — the Ministry of Love, a prison.

The mutability of the past and the existence of fact through memory are prominent themes throughout 1984. In this chapter, Winston begins to ask himself questions that will haunt him throughout the rest of the book; among them, how can an idea survive if the past is not allowed to exist? Both Hitler and Stalin distorted the past and rewrote history to maintain the illusion of supreme power. However, Orwell's intent is not merely to warn against the Hitlers (Fascists) and Stalins (Communists) of the world. Instead, his aim is to warn against the kinds of thinking and political processes that, although not as obvious as these two examples, ultimately make us receptive to more and more control.

In this chapter, Orwell further develops Winston's pessimistic, fatalistic character. He has been so convinced of and so assimilated by the Party's power and omniscience that he cannot imagine hiding any thought or action as he writes: "Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death." Therefore, once he has committed his thoughtcrime, he is sure he will be discovered and punished (vaporized). Winston's goal essentially becomes not to stay alive, which he has no confidence he can accomplish, but to stay alive as long as possible.

Glossary

spanner [Chiefly British] wrench.

impedimenta things hindering progress, encumbrances.

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What are the Party slogans -- War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength -- examples of?




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