1984 By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapters 7-8

Summary

Awakening from a troubling dream, Winston Smith tells Julia that he is responsible for the death of his mother. He recalls being hungry as a child and begging for food. One day, he stole a piece of chocolate from his small, weak sister and ran outside to eat it, not returning for a few hours. That was the last time he saw his mother and sister. The memory of Winston's mother holding his sister provokes him to think about the proles and the fact that they remain human, despite the society in which they live.

Winston and Julia discuss their relationship and how they will feel when they inevitably get caught. Julia is certain that, although both of them will confess, the Party is unable to make them believe their confessions, that it cannot "get inside you." Winston agrees.

Winston and Julia go to O'Brien's house, where they confess to O'Brien that they are enemies of the Party. O'Brien explains the secret Brotherhood, a loosely formed group committed to eliminate the Party, and initiates Julia and Winston into the group. The two swear to many perform many acts but refuse to never see each other again. O'Brien makes arrangements for Winston to receive a copy of "the book," Goldstein's heretical work. O'Brien says to Winston, "We shall meet again — " and Winston finishes the sentence, "In the place where there is no darkness?" O'Brien answers in the affirmative. Before Winston leaves, he asks O'Brien if he knows the last lines to the nursery rhyme that Mr. Charrington began for him earlier in the story, and O'Brien finishes it, much to Winston's surprise.

Analysis

Winston's memory of his mother and his sister serves to give the reader more insight into Winston's past and thus more insight into his character as an adult, into his motivations and why he does the things he does. He remembers a time when a gesture, such as embracing a child, could be done merely for the sake of itself, without catering to a political purpose. This memory reminds him of the proles, who do things just to do them, unlike Party members, who do things only because of their duty to Big Brother. Winston feels that the proles are the only hope for society to regain its humanity.

Winston's thoughts about the proles lead to one of the most important conversations between Winston and Julia. They discuss what they will do when caught. Although they know that they will confess to every detail, they are both sure that their actual feelings cannot be altered, that Big Brother can never get to the inner workings of the heart. They agree that the Party will make them inform on each other, but it will not be able to make them stop loving each other. This conversation is one of the greatest ironies in the novel and foreshadows what ultimately occurs between Winston and O'Brien and Winston and Julia.

Winston makes good on his decision to speak to O'Brien, in hopes that O'Brien has a solution to Big Bother's tyranny. When Winston learns that a secret Brotherhood really does exist, he and Julia are eager to join, even though O'Brien tells them the horrific consequences. Winston and Julia feel so strongly in their hatred of Big Brother and the Party that they are willing to do anything to help the Brotherhood, with one exception: they refuse to never see each other again.

The couple's honesty with O'Brien ultimately leads to their destruction as a couple, an irony that comes back to them at the end of the novel. O'Brien tells the couple that, if they survive, they may become unrecognizable to each other, that they may become entirely different people. Here Orwell foreshadows later events. The fact that O'Brien knows the ending to the nursery rhyme is noteworthy in that it signifies the beginning of the end for Winston. The fact that the ending comes from O'Brien is chilling considering the events that take place later in the story, when O'Brien effectively "ends" Winston as the reader knows him.

Glossary

superfluous being more than is needed, useful, or wanted; surplus; excessive.

simian of or like an ape or monkey.

stoneware a dense, opaque, glazed or unglazed pottery containing clay, silica, and feldspar and fired at a high heat.

sordid meanly selfish.

beseech to ask (someone) earnestly; entreat; implore.

clamorous loudly demanding or complaining.

remonstrances protests, complaints, or expostulations.

catechism a formal series of questions and answers.

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




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