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

Summary

Winston Smith is walking down a corridor at work when the girl from the fiction department, Julia, falls in front of him, hurting her arm. He notices that her arm is in a sling, and, although he is sure that she is a member of the Thought Police and therefore against him, he helps her to her feet. She slips a small folded scrap of paper into his hand and proceeds on her way. Winston must wait to open it, and when he finally does, it reads "I love you."

Winston has difficulty focusing for the rest of the day and tries to figure out a way to meet her. He sees her in the canteen a few times in the next few days but is unable to speak with her because of the lack of privacy. When he and she finally talk, they arrange to meet in Victory Square. At the meeting, Julia formulates a plan for the two of them to meet privately. They stand together, holding hands in the midst of a thick crowd watching a prisoner transport go by. Winston finds himself staring into the eyes of an aged prisoner instead of Julia's eyes as he would like, but he cannot risk looking directly at her.

Analysis

Part One was primarily about Winston, his motives, fears, desires, work life, and nature. This and the next couple of chapters develop Julia's character, which serves as a comparison and a contrast with Winston's character. Unlike Winston, Julia has no pre-Party history; consequently, she is a product of the developing political order. As a co-conspirator with Winston, Julia contrasts him in personality. Whereas Winston is pessimistically fatalistic, Julia is optimistically more matter of fact and accepts her lot for what it is. Julia is sensual, sexual, and practical. She and Winston will share the erotic affair that Winston has so ardently longed for.

In this chapter, Orwell introduces the true nature of Winston's conflict, which will inevitably lead to his doom. Until now, Winston has been merely another member of the Outer Party, going about his daily routine with little reason to attract attention to himself, except for the unorthodox thoughts inside his head and the diary that he begins in Chapter 1. Winston now decides to act on his thoughts and feelings and to involve another person, a very risky venture considering the political environment in which he lives. Winston's rebellion against the Party now involves someone else and is no longer merely a thoughtcrime, but an overt action involving forbidden behavior with another individual. Clearly, the risk has heightened.

The suppression of language as communication between and among people, a common theme in the novel, recurs in this chapter with the explanation of how letters are either opened and read or are simply pre-written generic postcards on which the sender strikes out any sentences that do not apply. Also interesting is the fact that Orwell makes Julia a kind of writer. According to Orwell, true literature cannot exist in a totalitarian society because of the lack of freedom of spirit and freedom of expression. To be able to write, Orwell believed, a writer must be able to think fearlessly, and in thinking fearlessly, a writer could not be politically intimidated. Thinking fearlessly in Oceania is impossible.

The prisoners in the transport and the crowd's reaction to them are significant. The prisoners represent how the Party uses war to manipulate and control the masses. Winston identifies with the prisoners: Their faces are described as "sad" twice, and one prisoner in particular has "mournful" eyes and "nests of hair." Using the word "nest," a bird image, to characterize the prisoner's hair is ironic. Birds are generally seen as symbols for freedom and are used similarly in other places in the novel as well. Winston stares into the prisoner's eyes while thinking of Julia. This moment foreshadows Winston and Julia's arrest later in the novel.

Glossary

niggling stingy.

Mongolian of Mongolia, its peoples, or their languages or cultures.

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




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