1984 By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapters 5-6

Summary

Winston Smith is back at work and Syme, the Newspeak expert, has vanished. Preparations for Hate Week are going on all over London.

Winston and Julia still meet in Mr. Charrington's room over the junk shop. Both are now aware that what they have together cannot last long. They talk of the war, which Julia believes is not truly happening, and they talk of people being vaporized. They daydream about being married and about engaging in active rebellion against the Party. Winston tries to make Julia understand that history is constantly being altered, but Julia does not see the significance in that fact. She is not interested in the past or the next generation of people; she is only interested in her relationship with Winston.

Back at work, O'Brien, an Inner Party member, approaches Winston and compliments him on his articles in the Times. O'Brien speaks to Winston about Syme, who is now an unperson and not to be discussed. Winston takes this conversation as a sign that O'Brien is on his side. O'Brien offers to lend Winston a copy of the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary and gives Winston his address. Winston believes that this is the moment he has been waiting for, but he also realizes that by taking this step, he is destined for an early grave.

Analysis

Chapter 5 serves as a transition in time and as a way to fill the reader in on the details of the months that Orwell has skipped. This chapter also highlights the differences between Winston and Julia. Even though Winston now has an ally in Julia, he is still essentially alone in his thinking.

This chapter also serves to introduce the fact that Syme has been vaporized, enabling O'Brien to reference him in the next chapter and thus key Winston in to O'Brien's possible unorthodoxy. Syme's disappearance also serves as the basis of the relationship between Winston and O'Brien. Note that Winston predicted Syme's disappearance earlier in the novel; furthermore, this meeting between Winston and O'Brien had been foreshadowed in Chapter 1, when Winston relates the eye contact made between him and O'Brien.

Winston interprets O'Brien's offer of the dictionary as an obvious ruse; he truly believes that his assumption about O'Brien's faithlessness to the Party is correct. Winston realizes at this moment that that he will follow through with O'Brien's summons. This decision is the turning point, or climax, in the story. All the events thus far in the novel have led to this moment. When Winston makes this irrevocable decision, he is at his greatest personal development. Although he could choose to turn away from destiny, he chooses instead to embrace it. From this point forward, fate takes over, and Winston is powerless to stop what comes to pass.

Glossary

bunting a thin cloth used in making flags, streamers, etc.

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