Class Discussion: ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’

We’re using this space here to continue our discussion of the novel.

For Class Discussion #5, make one initial comment on Part One, chapters VI-VII / Part Two, chapters I-II (pp. 65-129) by W 3/22  + two additional comments by F 3/24.

For Class Discussion #6, make one initial comment on Part Three (pp. 231-308) / Appendix: The Principles of Newspeak (pp. 309-323) by W 3/29  + two additional comments by F 3/31.

30 thoughts on “Class Discussion: ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’

  1. Winston said: “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious” (73). This statement suggests that society is unaware of what the party is doing to them. Society have to be free from the party, so they can see the party for what it is and realize that society is enslaved by they party.

    • I’d say that this is more a point that everyone just accepts whatever the party says and that they cannot become aware of their position until they change. One could imagine that realizing that you are being toyed with would change a person. The act of fighting, bleeding and perhaps dying for what you believe can change a person. These people are ignorant to the party’s activities and the party will do whatever it pleases until people change.

  2. -In “Nineteen Eighty-Four” it is interesting how the children in that society would actually be considered to be a very important aspect, probably even more than the adults or parents living in that society are. According to the text it says: “And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak-“child hero” was the phrase generally used-had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police.”(page 25). This describes how incidents like this are common and happen frequently. It would mean that in that society the children are developed and raised in a manner that would be used to help the higher power remain in power. They are actually a form of surveillance if you think about it because of the actions they perform and observations they make against people, mainly their parents.
    – What also struck out in this story about the society was that even though in a sense it is considered to be lawless, if people do certain things they can still be punished for those actions. Also in this society within the party members, the act of sexual intercourse was not permitted. According to the book: “Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an emema.”(page 67). The people who are a part of the party could not be physically attracted to one another and the main purpose of the marriage between them was to only get children for the party itself. Even the marriages had to be approved by the committee, but sexual desires was discouraged for various reasons.

    • Children are brainwashed when they’re born. They don’t know any better. That way the society condition children make them become similar to thought police. Winston questions Parsons saying “who denounced you?… It was my little daughter”(240). Children become spies at such a young age. Children in the Novel are very similar to today society as children want to become policemen same with children in the novel. Children become spies not ably because of the society but because of the party propaganda.

  3. as we discussed in class about big brother. “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU”, The expression Big Brother refers listening gadgets and cameras in a totalitarian culture, where Big Brother is the leader of the totalitarian administration. Everybody in this general public is under the reconnaissance of the specialists, which helps individuals to remember a perpetual catchphrase The government is watching You, Big Brother will know, as he spies on them constantly.

    • In a society that is lawless, the party (Big Brother) can monitor anyone at anytime. This makes society and Winston vulnerable to the party, even making them physically weak. The narrator said: “Winston, with a violent lunge, succeeded in touching his toes with his knees unbent, for the first time in several years”(38). The party monitoring society which Winston is part of had made Winston weak, same can be said about society. Keeping society weak might help the party, since weak society has a lesser chance to rebel and society is dependent and loyal to the party. In the conclusion to this interpretation, the party will control society to their own extend, unless society become aware of the party’s action.

      • i completely agreed on your comment jorge, Also, Winston frantically trusts that the Proles will wake up out of their trance of numbness and ascend against the Party. The main “hope” lies in the Proles.. T the Proles are stuck in their obliviousness. Their primal needs are met and they essentially don’t know or care that there could be a superior world.

    • This kind of surveillance makes you wonder what they are looking for. Are they all looking for people who could rebel. If that were the case, than why is there an entire section of , I want to say city but I’m not entirely sure, Oceania where there are unsupervised activities. If a rebellion were to ever start, it would be there. Also why are there kids arresting adults? That seems unreasonable and not likely to work out in the party’s favor. Its like there is an uneducated dictator who’s just pulling one big joke. This is all just so impractical and stupid to the point where I cannot come up with a better explanation.

      • This is sort of our government now. Besides observing for any crime such as kidnapping, trying to observe and monitor every since thing a person is doing is pointless as, most of the time, people are talking or doing about frivolous, superficial, personal but pointless things irrelevant to our government.

        However, as for the children arresting adults, this is another way the Party to control people. They have it so that the children is loyal to the party until they grow into loyal adults. This practice will not only make them obey the Party to the point of betraying their parents, but also makes sure the adults don’t even feel safe in the presence of the children they gave birth to. The more people the Party eliminates that might even think about disliking their society, the more people that mindlessly follows the party are left.

  4. The 3 slogans the party used War is peace, Freedom is slavery and Ignorance is strength (4) is totally the opposite of what the people should believe.This reminds me of the slogan “everyone belongs to everyone else” in Brave New World. These two stories were both based on societies that was designed to brainwash people almost turning them into robots. Winston reminds me of Bernard from BNW they’re both rebellious against the system their society created.

    • “Freedom is slavery” additionally goes about as a subliminal message for any individual who should seriously think about looking for freedom, while the last some portion of the slogan, “”Ignorance is strength,” urges the society to acknowledge as certainty everything that The Party lets them know, without utilizing rational thinking considering. believe and never question anything.

  5. A man much wiser than myself once said “Thinking is the most godlike thing we can do.” Thinking is what makes us civilized and powerful. Creatures that don’t think are often referd to as animals. Thought and higher understanding is what separates people from animals. So what if a person doesn’t think. Are they still a person or are they now an animal? Nineteen Eighty-Four is a story taking place in the fictional setting of Oceania. In Oceania the citizens do not think about anything. The government makes an announcement and none of the citizens question it. Regardless if a fact is wrong or something seems unreasonable the citizens let their government do all the thinking. Its almost as if these people are animals. Going about their lives and at times letting a higher power tame them, perhaps even domesticate and train them. The government also enforces something called a “thoughtcrime.” The people of Oceania are nothing more than animals who have a leash on them at all times.

  6. “Desire was a thoughtcrime”(70). In this society their is “no laws” yet relationships, promiscuity, seduction, desire, intercourse was prohibit. It was frowned upon. It is seen as repulsive act and is punishable. Only time it was permissible to engage in sexual intercourse was when someone was married.The party had to approve of the marriage. The two people could not be attracted to each other in any way and their soul purpose was to conceive a child to serve the party. Which was the case for Winston. He was married once, although it did not last long because no child came out of it. Winston did not have a connection with his wife Katherine. Winston called her “the human soundtrack”(68). Katherine was condition to follow everything the party stood for. She had no sense of self. She submitted her self to marriage because it was her duty. She at one point phrased it “our duty to the party”(69) when referring to intercourse with Winston. This is another way the party asserted its power and imposed its ideologies into its citizens. It made an act that is natural to human biology seem dirty and obscene.

  7. It seems that the totalitarian world view “the party” has it about its own perpetual state of being. The not know if the party even had enemies that Winston shows is very concerning, since Oceania always seems to be at war, as many a nation have blinded their by constant war. The totalitarian ideology the party has even goes down to the human reproductive cycle.” The only real purpose of marriage was to beget children for the service of the party” (pg 67). To this aim the party shows its true colors by seeing humans as machines to create more machines to feed the party, perverting one of humanity’s oldest social contracts of marriage into an actual license to reproduce.

    • Society does seem to be blinded by the party. Even to a point that they adapted a slogan saying “war is peace”, the society doesn’t know peace since the nation is constantly at war and could simply experiencing what the party fed them (conditioning) . In the full slogan “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”, society determined from this slogan don’t know the difference from bad and good. Society is blinded by the party because they see the party as good.

  8. We spoke on the topic of double think, the society was force fed information which they had to believe whether they wanted to or not. “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.” 2 + 2 obviously isn’t 5 , but in this world you better believe this with all your heart or face torture or even death.

    The party is constantly using propaganda to erase the people’s mind of reality and imprint a new way of thinking and living. As people we are all different and become individuals based on our mind sets, personalities, and out look on life. But in this society they aren’t allowed to have any of that. The party reconfiguring their minds to follow blindly, they are erasing all reality and creating a new world. I find that pretty drastic, the Party, who ever they are, is literally changing the “world” the citizens live in.

    Imagine being forced to believe that gravity doesn’t exist and we all just have tiny tiny magnets glued to the soles of our feet which hold us to earth, or the sun is purple with green dots. These are things that are obviously false, but the Party has so much power over the citizens, that they could rewrite all physics books and cosmology books, and tell the citizens believe this, think this, live this or die.

    Thats crazyyyy

    • Yes, the party does brainwash their citizen into thinking the party is good. Winston was one of the citizen that deviated from the norm. When Winston was capture, the party did not kill him immediately because they wanted to make an example out of him by brainwashing him. Winston after the brainwash cheer with the crowd for the party, as the narrator describes “he was with the crowds outside, cheering himself to deaf” (307). Winston has changed since the beginning of the novel, his ideas have change and is now for the party. They brainwash Winston because they want society to see there is no rebellion or rebels and keep society in control and for the interest of the party.

  9. “At the sight of the words I love you the desire to stay alive had welled up in him, and the taking of minor risks suddenly seemed stupid” (110-111). At first Winston wanted to shrug off the note, but the more he thought about it, the more he wanted to talk to Julia about it. However he couldn’t just talk about it out the blue as it would be suspicious. He decides to do it in the cafeteria, but has trouble doing it. He fails for an entire week, showing that he really was interesting in the note, or more importantly, Julia. He later finds out they have quite a bit in common, as they both share a dislike for the party, as well as that Julia was acting the way she was to blend in. It’s a smart approach. Conform, or at least pretend to, and nobody will suspect you.

    • By that same quote, it also shows that Winston now has something more to lose. In the book, “Now that he had recognized himself as a dead man, it became important to stay alive as long as possible” (29). While he felt the need to try to stay alive, he was accepting death either way because he knew his actions condemned him the moment he had done them. However, once he was given that love note, he was given more reasons to not die so that he could not only write as much in his diary as possible, but also to see the girl who told him “I love you” again.

  10. Class discussion#5- According to the text it says: “In the face of pain there is no heroes, he thought over and over as he writhed on the floor, clutching uselessly at his disabled left arm.”(246). This quote is describing the situation in which he feels as though he feels helpless. It describes feelings of hopelessness and that when a person goes through pain especially in that society they are living in, they should expect no one to vouch for them. It also displays feelings of betrayal in a way because he was put in a situation where he could not do much and that the mental pain affected him more than the actual physical pain.

  11. I’ve never seen a “deep web red room” but the last part of this book is probably what they look like. While the red rooms are the petty destruction of the body, the torture that Winston endures is the petty destruction of his mind. Winston’s torture at first seems like the punishment for violating the sanctity of the party, but as O’Brien stats “the thought is all we care about”(261). This then shows the Party’s true purpose of this act, not to kill a man, that was already fated, but to kill the idea he had spun. Th Party knows that killing men is easy and petty, offering little worth to it. Ending an idea that threatens the Party, is to them, is far more valuable to see crushed, to ultimately prove “might makes right”.

  12. It is interesting and strange that in the book, several different kinds of people. From within the Party, we already had an idea on who to expect to die and be erased from history by the Party. From Winston’s observation, ” It seems to him that he knew instinctively who would survive and who would perish, though just what it was that made for survival, it was not easy to say”(page 63). Winston already has an idea on who the Party favors or wants within its own Party and who they will vaporize the keep everyone in line. However, Winston expressed surprise when he saw Parsons enter the same cell as him, despite assuming Parsons to be some of the view who will never be vaporized due to being so dumb and taking in anything that the Party tells him. Parson did not change in personality nor had or gain any hatred towards the Party, but none the less was brought in the Ministry of Love for reasons that would seem unlikely for him to do.

    Interestingly enough, this also displays Winston’s lack of judgement as when he found out that Julia loves him when before assumed that she was another drone obedient to the Party, or when he thought to trust Mr. Charrington despite not knowing much about him instead of keeping his guard up for any hints of surveillance, or his general surprise to see O’Brien in the Ministry of Love just like himself.

  13. The party strives to have absolute power. “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake…Power is not a means; it is an end”(272). They do not seek power to better its citizens conditions , but to control everything . They have made up a language that society must follow. Destroyed and rewritten history to their liking. They decided what is true and false. They want to posses everything including control over the human mind because according to O’Brian “reality in in the skull”(274).

      • ” Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” the party is not making the same mistakes on history . too much power can be a bad thing. once you have a power you want to seek more and fear of losing power can lead a bad things. as you make reference on your comment. the don’t looking for to solve and peoples life, they are doing the opposite .the party tries to eliminated any signal of free will.

  14. Love is a powerful emotion to have when it’s between two human beings. But fear can break any man or woman to betray all they believe in for self-preservation. In Chapter 5 of Part 3, Winston is tortured with a mask of rats to complete his reintegration process and in turn betrays Julia. This proves my point and contradicts Winston early statement to Julia about his love. “I don’t mean confessing. Confession is not betrayal. What you say or do doesn’t matter: only feelings matter. If they could make me stop loving you—that would be the real betrayal” (170).

  15. I believe that “FEAR IS LOVE” should be added to party slogan of WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. Using fear to either break, change, or control has worked for the party to keep their totalitarian world in check and to place your love in Big Brother to protect you. In the being of the story, I relieved that the children should be feared the most because they grew up in this totalitarian world versus most of the adults that know how the world use to be before the war, “With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy” (23). With fear, the party was able to break Winston from the love for Julia and to conform like everyone else in society. During the final paragraph of the story, accepts his new love, “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother” (308).

  16. In the novel O’Brien said: “Oceania is the world”(274). This statement relate to the book that Winston was reading before he was caught. That Oceania is in a separate universe and that is the way the party maintain controls over society. If there are in separated and no one know if there really is a war. Each of the super power are islotated and that how they maintain control of their own society, by creating a world within their boundaries.

  17. According to the book it says: “We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.”(261). What this is saying that if a person that is living in Oceania has conflicting viewpoints against them or thinks in a manner that goes against that society than even though they would be considered an enemy of the state, they would be punished in a way that would change the person themselves and that can be considered worst than death. Also it shows that the society uses methods to control people by brutal means and that they only concern themselves with the fact that the person with the conflicting viewpoints would have that mindset of theirs broken or eradicated before eventually falling to the society. In a way it actually thrives on making the people suffer like that and offering punishments like that so that the people would feel powerless.

  18. “Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your own nervous system” Winston said. He was practically describing how thpughts can be read in light of the fact that it is humanly impossible to control human gesture. the Thought Police needed to utilize any little glitch of motion to decide whether individuals were really exhibiting blame in their activities as a results of their thoughts..

    The human sensory system is the thing that contols and controls even the most automatic signals

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