1984 By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 8

Summary

Winston Smith decides to take a stroll through one of the prole neighborhoods. A bomb falls nearby, a common occurrence, but Winston is unhurt and continues walking, but not before he kicks a severed prole hand into the gutter. He enters a pub and begins speaking to an old man about the time before the war. The man refuses to answer Winston's questions with any kind of accuracy. Winston then returns to the little antique shop where he purchased the diary. He talks for a while with the shop's owner, Mr. Charrington, who sells him an antique paperweight and shows him an upstairs room. Winston is shocked that the room has no telescreen. Mr. Charrington also shows Winston a drawing of a church that he recognizes as a museum downtown and teaches him the beginning of a nursery rhyme.

Upon leaving the shop, Winston sees the dark-haired girl from the fiction department. He is sure that she is following him, and he imagines smashing her in the head with a cobblestone or the paperweight he has just purchased. He is paralyzed with fear. He also remembers again the dream in which O'Brien said to him, "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness" and muses about when he will be detected as a thought-criminal. This chapter and Part 1 end with the repetition of Party's three slogans.

Analysis

The final chapter in Part 1 has Winston making a serious attempt to find a connection with the past. Winston knows that his actions mean certain torture and death, yet he continues to search, hoping that he is not alone, that someone else feels as he does. This is the first time in the novel that Winston actively reaches out to the past, to his curiosity and obsession with memory and history, and it is this action that seals his fate.

Mr. Charrington's antique shop, representing the past as it does, is a significant find. At the antique shop, Winston finds a paperweight and a fragment of a child's nursery rhyme, whose purposes are mysterious to him. These items become symbolic motifs in the novel. The paperweight, at this point in the novel, symbolizes the mystery and charm of the past, though later it will come to represent the relationship between Winston and Julia. The coral in the center of the paperweight represents rarity, and the fact that it is embedded in the glass and cannot be touched represent the problem in Winston's life. He wants to know the past, but too many obstacles surround it, preventing him access. The fragment of the nursery rhyme also becomes important later in the novel, functioning both as a thread tying together the main characters, as well as a representation of a kind of nostalgia that Winston is perpetually searching for.

Finally, Orwell closes the chapter with Winston thinking of the place where there is no darkness and the Party's terrifying slogans. By juxtaposing Winston's thoughts on "the place where there is no darkness" with the Party's slogans, Orwell reiterates the omnipotent and foreboding nature of the environment in which Winston lives and ominously foreshadows the link between O'Brien, the Party, and Big Brother.

Glossary

lackeys followers who carry out another's orders in the manner of servants.

bourgeoisie the social class between the aristocracy or very wealthy and the working class, or proletariat; middle class.

incongruous not corresponding to what is right, proper, or reasonable; unsuitable; inappropriate.

farthing a former small British coin, equal to one fourth of a penny.

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




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