1984
George Orwell

by

Karim Chandra

Book 1 Chapter 1-2
Summary

Winston Smith lives in London, in an area known as Airstrip One. London is now a part of the super state of Oceania; formally known as Great Britain. In the we catch a glimpse of Winston’s true feelings, his personal reflection on his reality and the world in which he lives. Oceania is a totalitarian state commanded by the standards of Ingsoc (English Socialism) and administered by an unfavorable association referred to just as the Party, of which Big Brother is the unseen supreme leader. Two different super states occupy the known world in addition to Oceania. They are Eurasia and Eastasia, and the three are seemingly continuously waging war on one another or forming alliances. Winston is one of the Party members, and he wears uniforms just like other party members: blue overalls.

Thin, fragile, and thirty-nine years of age, it is difficult for him to walk up the stairs since he has a varicose ulcer over his right leg. The lift is constantly out of maintenance, so he doesn't attempt to utilize it. As he climbs the staircase, he is welcomed on each arrival by a notice delineating a large face, underscored by the words “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU." Despite Winston being a Party member, his life is constantly under the Party's strict political control. In his rented house, an instrument called a telescreen, is always powered on, and it is through it that the Thought Police are known to screen the activities of subjects. Winston holds his back to the screen. From his window, he sees the Ministry of Truth, where he works as the officer in charge of propaganda modifying records to align to the Party's way of thinking – telling the public what they need to be told.

Analysis

Winston sees the rules and regulations in his environment - the figure of Big Brother, the telescreen, the miserable living conditions, and the pathetic life of his neighbor and her Party-loving children - with a mixture of sorrow and abhorrence. He has profound reservations about the Party and thinks that there must be different ideas that should be promoted for a brighter future, where individual choices are allowed. In any case, his neighbor’s children’s tremendous loyalty to the Party alarms Winston. He perceives how youthful personalities can be indoctrinated into the Party through different organizations and associations, for example; the Youth League, which urges younger citizens to report anybody they perceive to be having a criminal mind or possessing individual thought, - even their parents and guardians - to the Party. This control and impact over the youngest of Oceanian’s citizens demonstrates the huge level of mental control the Party holds over its subjects, and again gives a parallel to similar totalitarian associations of the twentieth century such as the Hitler Youth.

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