The last sentence of 1984 by George Orwell, though very clear itself, thrusts the meaning of the book into ambiguity and interpretation. Because it is the last thing seen by the reader, the ending of a book has the power to leave the lasting impression. Whether this is a good or bad impression remains to be decided by the readers themselves. While this ending may not be seen as a pleasant one, it appropriately concludes the novel in the way that it stays true to the overall tone of the book and it allows Orwell’s fundamental message to reach the reader and have a lasting impact.
Set in a dreary town and focused on an old, graying, sickly man named Winston the tone in the beginning of 1984 was one of dark despair. Eventually with meeting Julia and obtaining Emmanuel Goldstein’s book, both Winston and the tone of the novel seem to get brighter and even show a glimmer of hope. The ending of 1984 is significant, because while Winston’s tone seems happy, the overall tone at the end is dark because Winston, and mankind with him, has lost. It is the first time in the novel that Winston’s feelings don’t mimic the overall tone, which is significant in that it shows that he has lost touch with himself and his own humanity, there is a disconnect.
The ending of 1984 was necessary to highlight the power and ultimate control of the party. This was all essential to Orwell’s overarching message, which was to warn his audience of the dark side of totalitarian regimes. He condemns too much power in the hands of one person or organization and his ambiguity as to which specific government he is referring to lets it apply to all organizations and parties in power. The disturbing and unexpected ending enforces the feelings of anger and fear in the readers. This comes through even stronger when contrasted with the hope Winston and the readers felt before he was captured. His message has a greater and longer lasting impact because of these emotions.