To Orwell Today

The book makes clear that dissidents are eventaully executed, but first they have to be totally broken. That is what happened to the three old Party leaders which Winston saw in the Chestnut Cafe years before. There is nothing metaphorical about his thinking of the bullet entering his head. He knows that now that he loves Big Brother i.e. the task of breaking him is finished. He is soon going to be arrested again and executed. This is very clear from earlier parts of the book. A dissident is NEVER left alive, he is sometimes let loose a short time but always re-arrested and "vaporised".

Adam Keller - Israel

Greetings Adam,

In the closing paragraph of "1984" it does appear that Winston has given up the struggle with the part of his inner-self that would not allow him to love Big Brother. But in my essay WINSTON DIES INSIDE, which you refer to above, I contend that Winston's soul (the spirit of man) escapes his body before his mind loves Big Brother.

The ending of the book has a metaphysical aspect because Orwell was familiar with the metaphysical. During his lifetime he almost died many times, but not for real until he finished writing "1984".

Yes, O'Brien did tell Winston that the three old Party leaders had been completely broken but he also told Winston that he had never seen the news article and photo of them, which Winston had actually held in his hand, and which O'Brien had also shown him in the Ministry of Love. So O'Brien obviously can't be relied on for the truth. Winston's challenge was to pretend to O'Brien (and himself) that he DID love Big Brother while all the while still hating him:

"...He had hoped to keep the inner heart inviolate. For the first time he perceived that if you want to keep a secret you must also hide it from yourself. You must know all the while that it is there, but until it is needed you must never let it emerge into your consciousness in any shape that could be given a name. From now onwards he must not only think right; he must feel right, dream right. And all the while he must keep his hatred locked up inside him like a ball of matter which was part of himself and yet unconnected with the rest of him, a kind of cyst."

In the Chestnut Tree Cafe, about ten minutes before he thinks he LOVES BIG BROTHER, Winston's mind is still not totally controlled because he traces "2 + 2 =  " on the table in the dust. He doesn't write in "5"* which means deep down he's still having problems with Big Brother's math:

2 + 2 =

Another proof that Winston's mind is still not entirely lost to Big Brother, while he's sitting in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, is that he is still remembering good and happy thoughts about his mother and sister:

"...Uncalled, a memory floated into his mind. He saw a candle-lit room with a vast white-counterpaned bed, and himself, a boy of nine or ten, sitting on the floor, shaking a dice-box, and laughing excitedly. His mother was sitting opposite him and also laughing...His tiny sister, too young to understand what the game was about, had sat propped up against a bolster, laughing because the others were laughing. For a whole afternoon they had all been happy together, as in his earlier childhood..."

which is something O'Brien had said would not be possible after Big Brother had tortured him into submission:

"...'Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.'..."

In the second-last paragraph of the book Winston is in a blissful dream when the "long-hoped-for bullet" enters his brain. This means that Winston has accomplished his plan of spiritual escape which he devised in the Ministry of Love just before being taken into Room 101:

"...One day they would decide to shoot him. You could not tell when it would happen, but a few seconds beforehand it should be possible to guess. It was always from behind, walking down a corridor. Ten seconds would be enough. In that time the world inside him could turn over. And then suddenly, without a word uttered, without a check in his step, without the changing of a line in his face—suddenly the camouflage would be down and bang! would go the batteries of his hatred. Hatred would fill him like an enormous roaring flame. And almost in the same instant bang! would go the bullet, too late, or too early. They would have blown his brain to pieces before they could reclaim it. The heretical thought would be unpunished, unrepented, out of their reach for ever. They would have blown a hole in their own perfection. To die hating them, that was freedom..."

Another thing that Big Brother was proven wrong about regarding Winston (who is really Orwell) was when O'Brien said:

"...'And above all we do not allow the dead to rise up against us. You must stop imagining that posterity will vindicate you, Winston. Posterity will never hear of you. You will be lifted clean out from the stream of history. We shall turn you into gas and pour you into the stratosphere. Nothing will remain of you, not a name in a register, not a memory in a living brain. You will be annihilated in the past as well as in the future. You will never have existed.'..."

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Orwell, even though he's been physically dead for 55 years, is still rising up against Big Brother and everything it stands for. Posterity knows Orwell's name. He has not been forgotten. On the contrary, every day more "living brains" are learning about Orwell and Winston. They existed. They STILL exist.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

*NOTE: In recent editions of "1984" the "5" is written in the dust but in the earlier editions (for example the one I used in compiling the themes and the one Orwell approved for publishing in 1949) there is a "blank" instead of a "5", which implies that Winston is still not thinking the way Big Brother wants him to think.

....conversation continues at WINSTON HATES BIG BROTHER



45.Chestnut Tree Cafe


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~