1984 By George Orwell Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapters 9-10

Summary

Winston Smith is exhausted after working many long hours in the Ministry of Truth, helping to "rectify" the misinformation in all of the documents published by the Party for the past five years. As a result of a change in enemy, history must be rewritten. Having received "the book" from an anonymous person from the Brotherhood at a Hate Week rally earlier, Winston takes it to the room over Mr. Charrington's shop and begins to read, first alone and then to Julia. The book contains the history and ideology of the Party. Winston muses on what he has read in the book and realizes that it did not tell him anything new; Winston already knew the how of the Party's doctrine, but what he really wants to know is the why.

Winston falls asleep with Julia. When they wake, they discuss the prole woman outside hanging the laundry and singing and remember the singing bird they saw on the day they first met. Suddenly, a voice from behind the picture on the wall says, "You are the dead." Behind the picture is a telescreen. Winston and Julia are captured, and Mr. Charrington turns out to be a member of the Thought Police.

Analysis

Chapters 9 and 10 signify the culmination of all of the novel's previous events; Winston believes he is now a part of the secret Brotherhood and revels in his new status, feeling comfortable for the first time in the novel. He begins to let down his guard and feel that he is beyond capture. The book O'Brien gives him provides Winston with the hope that the society of Oceania can eventually change. Like Winston, the reader is lulled into false security, thinking that the future is looking brighter. From all previous events, however, and with the predominance of irony throughout the story, one should realize that the opposite of what is on the surface in this story is generally the case.

The two sections that Winston reads from in the book — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism — take up most of the action in Chapter 9. This rambling political treatise incorporates several views, including those of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, on economic theory, class struggle, and other socio-political issues. This section also gives the reader more insight into the history and ideology of Oceania. By including this excerpt, Orwell stalls the action of the story in order to emphasize its anti-totalitarianism stance. In addition, the book shows that the entire world is basically the same as Oceania, although the two other countries call their brands of totalitarianism by different names. In this way, Orwell effectively makes escape for Winston and Julia impossible.

These chapters are full of the symbolism and recurring images and themes that persist throughout the novel. The prole woman who Winston once saw as dumb and ignorant now comes back as "beautiful" and is a symbol for the freedom that he and Julia will never have. The prole woman's singing recalls the bird that the couple saw that first day they met, the symbol of ultimate freedom and action for action's sake. Winston remarks that the bird was singing for them on that day, but Julia realizes that the bird was singing just to sing, nothing more.

When the couple is caught, Mr. Charrington's voice comes through the telescreen and repeats what the couple says, just as he has done earlier in the story when he pretended to be a harmless old man. Mr. Charrington finishes the nursery rhyme with its chilling and foreshadowing conclusion, giving closure to that bit of symbolism — the rhyme is complete, as is the end of the affair between Winston and Julia. The telescreen was hidden behind the drawing of the church, a symbol of sanctity and sanctuary; even the church is profane, having been the vehicle for surveillance and capture.

The glass paperweight returns as a symbol and is smashed during the couple's capture. Winston remarks that the coral that was formerly inside the paperweight is actually much smaller outside the glass. The paperweight represents Winston and Julia's relationship; their relationship, like the coral, is revealed and is bare and small beneath the eyes of Big Brother.

Neither Winston nor Julia makes any attempt to avoid capture; they submit without fighting. They are pure products of the society in which they live, finding it inconceivable to openly struggle against the forces of Big Brother. In the end of Part Two, the two are separated and are surely aware of their doom.

Glossary

gelatinous like gelatin or jelly; having the consistency of gelatin or jelly.

haranguing delivering a long, blustering scolding.

Oligarchical having to do with a form of government in which the ruling power belongs to a few persons.

Neolithic Age designating or of an Old World cultural period (c. 8000-3500 B.C.) characterized by polished stone tools, pottery, weaving, stock rearing, and agriculture.

meritorious having merit; deserving reward, praise, etc.

empirical relying or based on practical experience without reference to scientific principles.

ruminant of the cud-chewing animals.

Socialism any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products.

cyclical of, or having the nature of, a cycle.

cardinal of main importance; principal.

titular existing only in title; in name only.

lingua franca any hybrid language used for communication between different peoples.

stratified classified or separated into groups.

ossified settled or rigidly fixed in a practice, custom, attitude, etc.

vilifies uses abusive or slanderous language about or of.

truncheons [Chiefly British] sticks or billy clubs, as used by the police.

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