Discussion Questions

1. Compare and contrast the nature of Winston’s and Julia’s rebellion against the Party. How are they different, and how are they similar? How does their age difference figure into this?

2. Discuss the Party’s strategy regarding Winston. Given that O’Brien has been playing a game with him for seven years, and that Charrington and the Thought Police have been spying on him in the apartment, why isn’t Winston arrested earlier? Why do they let him have Goldstein’s book?

3. We later find out that O’Brien and others in the Party are the true authors of Goldstein’s book. What is the Party’s purpose in creating this book? Do Goldstein and the Brotherhood even exist? If not, why would the Party fabricate them?

4. Discuss fatalism in the novel. In retrospect, Winston seems to have known, deep down, everything that would happen to him—a point O’Brien emphasizes in his interrogation. Is everything that happens in the novel inevitable?

5. Is there any hope in the novel? At the end of his interrogation (chapter 4, part 3), Winston concedes that O’Brien has broken his mind but seems to hold out hope that he can protect his “inner heart.” He says that the key is to bury a secret so deeply in your heart that it remains a secret even to yourself. Is there a part of the human heart that can resist any manipulation?

6. How realistic is the novel as a possible depiction of the future? What would it take for such a society to come into being?

7. Discuss the role of the proletariat, or “proles,” in the world of 1984. They seem to keep alive qualities of human nature that are being extinguished within the Party. Is there some hope that they will develop a political consciousness and rise up? Why does the Party largely ignore them and not make any effort to recruit them into the Party?

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Essays About 1984