To Orwell Today,

I'm confused about the ending of 1984....I think he was released after he was tortured, THEN he was killed in the end. My friend says he was never released, just hallucinating....which is it? Or did Orwell want to leave it up to the reader?

Thanks so much!

Greetings Celia,

Literally, at the end of the story, Winston is still alive. But figuratively - in the second last paragraph - he commits spiritual suicide.

His memory of his mother, and the happy time they spent playing Snakes and Ladders, is symbolic of his life flashing before his eyes - as supposedly happens to people just before they die.

He imagines himself walking down the hall toward the next torture session hoping that they'll kill him instead and let him escape their misery. And then it happens. He feels the "sunlight" (God) and a sense of "everything forgiven, his soul white as snow" (God loves him) and "the long-hoped for bullet enters his brain" (birth into God's world).

He hears the telescreen make its "trumpet-call" (God calling him home) and he robotically behaves the way he's supposed to, without having to think about it because he no longer lives inside his body. His soul has escaped, "...everything was all right, the struggle was finished".

That, in any event, is how I interpret it. Naturally I don't know for sure if that is what Orwell meant but it makes sense to me.

Actually, just a few weeks ago I put up an essay that explains Winston and Julia's love affair, and it should help your friend understand that Winston was let go after the torture, and that it wasn't just a hallucination - although his death was. So in a way you're both right.

Thanks for your very deep question, and I hope my explanation helps.

All the best,
Jackie Jura


Jackie Jura visits 2. ORWELL'S GRAVE during her HOMAGE TO ORWELL

TORTURING TO FIND GOD (people to be tortured & brain scanned to see if faith is there). MSNBC, Jan 12, 2005. Go to 42.The Party Tells Why & ORWELL SAW GOD IN MAN

45.Chestnut Tree Cafe and WHO CONTROLS WINSTON'S MIND?


Jackie Jura
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