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Winston goes to his job in the Records section of the Ministry of Truth, where he works with a “speakwrite” (a machine that types as he dictates into it) and destroys obsolete documents. He updates Big Brother’s orders and Party records so that they match new developments—Big Brother can never be wrong. Even when the citizens of Airstrip One are forced to live with less food, they are told that they are being given more than ever and, by and large, they believe it. This day, Winston must alter the record of a speech made in December 1983, which referred to Comrade Withers, one of Big Brother’s former officials who has since been vaporized. Since Comrade Withers was executed as an enemy of the Party, it is unacceptable to have a document on file praising him as a loyal Party member.
Winston invents a person named Comrade Ogilvy and substitutes him for Comrade Withers in the records. Comrade Ogilvy, though a product of Winston’s imagination, is an ideal Party man, opposed to sex and suspicious of everyone. Comrade Withers has become an “unperson:” he has ceased to exist. Watching a man named Comrade Tillotson in the cubicle across the way, Winston reflects on the activity in the Ministry of Truth, where thousands of workers correct the flow of history to make it match party ideology, and churn out endless drivel—even pornography—to pacify the brutally destitute proletariat.
Winston has lunch with a man named Syme, an intelligent Party member who works on a revised dictionary of Newspeak, the official language of Oceania. Syme tells Winston that Newspeak aims to narrow the range of thought to render thoughtcrime impossible. If there are no words in a language that are capable of expressing independent, rebellious thoughts, no one will ever be able to rebel, or even to conceive of the idea of rebellion. Winston thinks that Syme’s intelligence will get him vaporized one day. Parsons, a pudgy and fervent Party official and the husband of the woman whose plumbing Winston fixed in Chapter II, comes into the canteen and elicits a contribution from Winston for neighborhood Hate Week. He apologizes to Winston for his children’s harassment the day before, but is openly proud of their spirit.
Suddenly, an exuberant message from the Ministry of Plenty announces increases in production over the loudspeakers. Winston reflects that the alleged increase in the chocolate ration to twenty grams was actually a reduction from the day before, but those around him seem to accept the announcement joyfully and without suspicion. Winston feels that he is being watched; he looks up and sees the dark-haired girl staring at him. He worries again that she is a Party agent.
That evening, Winston records in his diary his memory of his last sexual encounter, which was with a prole prostitute. He thinks about the Party’s hatred of sex, and decides that their goal is to remove pleasure from the sexual act, so that it becomes merely a duty to the Party, a way of producing new Party members. Winston’s former wife Katherine hated sex, and as soon as they realized they would never have children, they separated.
Winston desperately wants to have an enjoyable sexual affair, which he sees as the ultimate act of rebellion. In his diary, he writes that the prole prostitute was old and ugly, but that he went through with the sex act anyway. He realizes that recording the act in his diary hasn’t alleviated his anger, depression, or rebellion. He still longs to shout profanities at the top of his voice.