1984 Reading Guide

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1984 Reading Guide

Events

Winston began his diary on April 4th, 1984. This diary, any diary, is forbidden by law. He was inspired to start this diary when he saw the book of “smooth creamy paper” in a junk-shop that party members were forbidden to go into. He rearranged the TV to a different part of the room so that he would have a small space that was not visible by “Big Brother”, and that is where he began his diary. He drew a blank in the very beginning and then suddenly began writing what he called a “stream of rubbish”. It concerned films of war.

Winston describes the Two Minutes Hate as “The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.” The Two Minutes Hate was a video of Emmanuel Goldstein, the enemy of the Party. He was once a very important member of the Party until he “engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.” The videos were always of Goldstein attacking the party, promoting freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of thought. He thought it was vile, but also plausible. The videos created hatred for him and much frenzy among the viewers.

The Parson’s children attacked him “in play” as a traitor and thought-criminal. The boy led the chanting and the little sister imitated him. Winston felt the boy’s eyes had a calculating ferocity to them, almost as if he knew Winston was writing a diary. The boy hit him in the back of the head with an object using a catapult, and yelled “Winston!”

Winston recalls that the Party lied by saying that Oceania had never been in an alliance with Eurasia, even though he knew there had been one sometime in the last 4 years. The records of history reflected the lie in London-they controlled the past and what people knew of it.

Winston made up a person named Comrade Ogilvy-he was to be a war hero that would take the place in history of Withers who was vaporized.

Winston’s conversations with Syme consisted of who has or doesn’t have razor blades, the hanging from the day before-Syme enjoyed-the dictionary that Syme is working on-they were destroying words and creating words. Syme was very excited that they would have a new edition for everyone to learn. “the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

Winston reads from a child’s history book to try and recall the past. He recorded a passage of it into his diary and then stopped-he knew the rest by heart. The book wrote of capitalism being evil in the past and how bad it was for those who were not capitalists.

Winston had a conversation with a prole in the pub. He asked him if life was better now, or was it better before the revolution. He never gave Winston a direct answer, even when Winston explained that he was trying to find out if the history books were teaching correctly.

Winston purchased a paperweight. He liked it mostly because it represented the past-“an age quite different from the present one.” It was an antique.

After Winston left the junk-shrop (his second visit), he noticed the dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department. He felt it was too coincidental for her to be on the same street at the same time as him. He just knew that she was spying on him.

All of these events definitely lead one to believe that they live in a socialist society in which Big Brother, the government, controls every aspect of one’s life. There is the notion that you are always being watched either by Big Brother or by your neighbors.

Characters

Winston Smith-He is an individual that is curious about what he has been told growing up. He...
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