1984

by: George Orwell

Book Two: Chapters I–III

The opening of Book Two, in which Winston meets Julia and begins the erotic affair he has so deeply desired, commences the main section of the novel and strikes an immediate contrast between the two lovers. Unlike Winston, Julia is neither overly speculative about, nor troubled by, the Party. Rather, she possesses a mix of sensuality and practicality that enables her to plan their affair with ruthless efficiency and then enjoy it with abandon. Julia also lacks Winston’s fatalism. When he tells her, “We are the dead,” she replies calmly, “We’re not dead yet.” Julia is more optimistic than Winston, and uses her body to remind him that he is alive. She accepts the Party and her life for what it is, and tries to make the best of a situation that cannot be greatly improved.

Though not interested in Winston’s need to understand the Party, Julia does facilitate Winston’s attempts to undermine the Party. In Chapter III, she produces some of the most astute analysis of the Party in the novel. Her understanding of sexual repression as a mechanism to incite “war fever” and “leader worship” renders her sexual activity a political act. From Winston’s point of view, the significance of having unauthorized sex with another Party member lies in the fact that his rebellion is no longer confined to himself. Though he considers her somewhat self-absorbed, Winston is thrilled that Julia has had so many affairs with so many Party members. Sexual jealousy no longer has a place, as Winston revels in the possibility of widespread rebellion against the Party’s strict mandates.


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